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Veteran Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi has penned a two-year deal to join Lampre.
That’s according to La Gazzetta dello Sport, which reported that the 35-year-old from La Spezia is set to jump back into the ProTour ranks for 2010-11 with the Lampre squad.
The move is significant for Petacchi because it will allow him back into the most important races on the calendar, including the Tour de France, which he hasn’t raced since 2003.
Petacchi joined LPR after his controversial racing ban for exceeding limits of a prescribed asthma medication during the 2007 Giro d’Italia. Initially absolved of wrong-doing, the Court of Arbitration of Sport later imposed a racing ban and retroactively disqualified all of his results during the 2007 season.
He was fired by his Milram team and joined LPR with his return in 2008.
Petacchi, however, said he wanted to be back in the most important races, and searched out a ProTour team that would provide more guarantees instead of relying on invitations from organizers for the continental LPR team.
“I got along well with LPR and (team manager) Bordonali, but I couldn’t race the calendar that I wanted to. I felt out of place,” Petacchi told La Gazzetta. “By the end of the Giro, I had a good season, with 10 wins, I was competitive, but to not be invited (to the Tour) felt degrading.”
Despite his age, Petacchi insists he can still be competitive against a new generation of sprinters led by Mark Cavendish (Columbia-HTC) and Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Slipstream).
“I will be 36 in 2010, but the incentives are there,” Petacchi said, quickly referring to upcoming world championships. “I can expect to world championship courses to be well-suited for me, Melbourne and Copenhagen. What, Cipollini didn’t win the world’s until he was 35 and a half?”
Bichot to BBox
French rider Freddy Bichot has signed an agreement to move from Agritubel to BBox Bouygues fro 2010. A pro since 2003, Bichot joined Agritubel in 2007 and won a stage at the Tour de Wallonie and at Paris-Correze this year.