Petacchi and Ballerini check out the Worlds course in Madrid, Domina Vacanze refuse to let Scarponi
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Alessandro Petacchi’s planning for next season’s key objectives has started very early. On Thursday the Italian sprinter was in Madrid with Italian national coach Franco Ballerini and Ballerini’s predecessor, Alfredo Martini, to check over the likely course for next September’s world road race. The trio were guided around the course by fellow Italian but now Madrid resident Giovanni Lombardi. Petacchi felt that the course, despite some steep slopes, would suit him. “It is not as easy as Zolder (2002), but it’s a reasonable one for the sprinters,” he told Marca. “They will have to prepare themselves well for it because you’ll need to be strong to get over the hills. The Vuelta will be the best way of preparing for it and if the last week of that race isn’t as hard as this year I hope to finish it. I expect Freire and Zabel to be the two men to beat.” Next year’s Vuelta finishes in Madrid on September 18, exactly a week before the world road race championship takes place in the Spanish capital. Italian coach Ballerini said his biggest worry was how to control the race with the nine riders national teams will be limited to in Madrid. – Michele Scarponi’s Domina Vacanze team have put a block on the Italian moving to the Liberty Seguros team. Team boss Vincenzo Santoni’s Blue Sea Service company has released a statement pointing out that Scarponi is still under contract with them next season and that they will take legal steps against him if he does not fulfil it. Although Santoni has lost Domina Vacanze, who are taking over the sponsorship reins at Gianluigi Stanga’s De Nardi team, Santoni still holds the registration of several Domina Vacanze riders through Blue Sea Service. Scarponi’s only option now if he wants to move to Liberty could be buying his way out of his current contract.