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This year's Milan-San Remo winner Alessandro Petacchi has said that he will go into next season looking for new challenges having racked up numerous stage wins in all three major tours with his soon-to-disappear Fassa Bortolo team. Recently signed with the new Italo-German Milram team, Petacchi has told La Gazzetta dello Sport "I need to find new challenges. I don't want to remain a rider who only wins stages in the major tours."
As well as defending his San Remo title, Petacchi says his principal challenge will be the Tour of Flanders, as well as other Classics. "In addition to Flanders, I will also be targeting Ghent-Wevelgem, the HEW Cyclassics and Paris-Tours," he said, explaining that he will be helped towards these goals by new team-mate Erik Zabel and his friend and former team-mate Michele Bartoli, a past winner of Flanders.
"Michele is going to help me. We have been friends since he was with Mapei when we used to live not far away from each other. He raced Flanders many times and won practically all of the northern Classics except Paris-Roubaix, and he can show me how to deal with the pav, what kind of equipment to use, how to ride in a particular race and when to be at the front," Petacchi told Gazzetta.
The Italian also said Bartoli had been encouraging him to ride Roubaix, which he had always been encouraged to miss because of the high risk of injury involved. Bartoli said he only discovered the attraction of Roubaix in his final season as a pro, and Bartoli told the paper "I do not want [Alessandro] to make the same mistake".
"I am convinced that Alessandro can go well in these races," Bartoli continued. "He has the perfect physique, a compact pedalling style and has great power output. The only thing that he is really lacking to win on the cobbles is experience. But I have invited him to come and train with me close to Monte Carlo where there are two or three sections of cobbles harder than those in Belgium."
- Former pro and current Belgian national junior coach Carlo Bomans has been appointed coach of the elite team following the retirement of Jos de Cauwer, who oversaw Tom Boonen's Worlds victory last month.
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