Alessandro Petacchi, veteran Italian sprinter turned Mark Cavendish's lead-out man, praises squad's performance in Tirreno-Adriatic team time trial

Omega Pharma-Quick Step impressed Alessandro Petacchi yesterday in the way it prepared for and won Tirreno-Adriatico’s time trial. The 40-year-old Italian, lead-out man for Mark Cavendish, won six stages and the green jersey in the Tour de France but said that he reached a new level of nervousness ahead of the stage.

“I was very nervous,” Petacchi said. “It’s normal when you know that you have a chance to win a time trial. You have to give you maximum, you can’t make any mistakes. I was behind Tony Martin, and I had to stay there when he was pulling at twice the speed as the others.”

The black and white train rolled into town in 20-13 minutes, 11 seconds faster than the previous best set by Australian team Orica-GreenEDGE. Omega Pharma won the World Championship title and last year in Tirreno, so it was nothing new. Petacchi just joined the team last year, though, and never won with such precision.

“It was the first true TTT in my career. I won once in Fassa Bortolo but it was in a smaller race, at the [2002] Tour Méditerranéen. To win here in Tirreno-Adriatico, a WorldTour race and with companions like Martin and Michal Kwiatkowski…”

The win was in the details. The Belgian team rode the 18.5-kilometre parcours along the Tuscan coast several times. Its sports directors decided which rider would ride where.

“We didn’t leave anything to risk,” said Petacchi. “I think everyone else rode the course over and over too but we went over every detail. We decided which rider would do the flat straights, the curves, the climbs and the finish. We wanted the best in each spot in order to take advantage of everything. We won with a good margin, so it went well.”

Cavendish led the team over the finish line and took the leader’s blue jersey, which he wore for the start of today’s stage to Cascina. The team decided that he or Martin would do so but Cavendish was closer to the head of the train at that point.

All eight riders enjoyed the win last night at its hotel in Castagneto Carducci. Petacchi reportedly ordered the best bottle of spumante the Zì Martino hotel had in its cellar. He said, however, that it was a simple bottle of red wine to accompany the day and their meal.

“Since we were in the Bolgheri zone, I think that it was the right choice, a good red wine from Bolgheri. It was important to celebrate no mater the wine.”