Petacchi on track and happy, more years for Rabobank, million dollar challenge

Alessandro Petacchi tunes up on Bremen track and says he's confident he's ready for the new season,

Alessandro Petacchi tunes up on Bremen track and says he's confident he's ready for the new season,

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

Petacchi confident going into new season

Milram sprinter Alessandro Petacchi spent Wednesday sharpening up his finishing speed on the track at Bremen, Germany, in the company of team-mates Brett Lancaster and Alessandro Cortinovis. The Italian's first race of the season is the Tour of Qatar on January 29, where his sprint duel with Tom Boonen is likely to be the main feature.

Speaking to Gazzetta dello Sport, Petacchi said he was "happy with how I am feeling. My training is going well, and I'm more or less at the same level I tend to be at this point in January. I think the problems linked to my knee fracture (last year at the Giro) have been overcome." Petacchi turned 33 last week, and celebrated at the home of Italian singer Andrea Bocelli. Petacchi was given a diamond-studded frog by his wife, Anna Chiara, as a sign of better luck to come after a frustrating 2006 season.

Also speaking in Bremen, where he will be competing in the six-day event with Switzerland's Bruno Risi, Petacchi's team-mate Erik Zabel repeated comments he made last month, when he said that Ivan Basso and Jan Ullrich should be allowed to ride. He also added that he is in favour of riders submitting to DNA tests. "We need certainty in cycling," said the German veteran.

Rabobank till 2012

Some may have their doubts about professional cycling, but Dutch financial institution Rabobank have extended their already lengthy commitment until 2012. The team's budget, which includes that of their highly successful continental development team, is now 12 million euros a season.

Million dollar kermesse

The 2007 season looks set to be one of the longest yet for the leading pros following the announcement of a four-day race in Abu Dhabi on November 2-5. It is run by Vuelta organisers Unipublic, who are confident they can attract the winners of all of this year's three major tours to the event with the lure of a one million dollar prize for the victor in the oil-rich Gulf state. Nine teams of eight riders are set to take part over three stages of about 200km.

Back to top