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Milram: Internal Strife?

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I've got a few topics to post today coming from the latest Cycle Sport, and the first is, what's wrong with having Erik Zabel and Alessandro Petacchi on the same team? Actually, the question of how Zabel and Petacchi are planning to work together occurred to me reading yesterday's Tirreno-Adriatico results. Zabel got pipped by Bettini, further solidifying his eternal second slot these days but it appears Petacchi helped lead him out:

Erik Zabel once again paid credit to his teammates, but had to be content with his eighth second place of the season. "I have to thank Velo and Petacchi who worked for my sprint at the end of the race," said Zabel. "I didn't feel very well today, and when Petacchi moved to the right in the last 200 metres, I was afraid to jump because I thought it was too soon with the road going uphill slightly."

Petacchi moved right... clearly playing last leadout. CS, meanwhile, has a breathless piece on how this pairing is likely to end badly as the two compete for attention. Why? Because when you have two champions in one place, it must be that way, right? They offer some examples: LeMond-Hinault, Roche-Visentini, Cunego-Simoni. This is pathetic logic, to wit:

  • Milram should be lucky to have similar problems. Each of the pairings named gave their team back-to-back grand tour wins.
  • Milram won't be especially conflicted the way La Vie Claire was... Zabel has slipped, Petacchi is in his prime. Moreover, Zabel is by all accounts a great teammate, and with all his wins, he shouldn't be too inclined to screw up the team for personal ambition.
  • And if there was strife at La Vie Claire and the others, it's because grand tour riders get at most two chances to win each year. Zabel and Petacchi will average about two victory chances a week. Each.
  • Finally, what's so hard about imagining distinct roles for both? Petacchi is a pure sprinter in terms of both his finishing and his difficulty making time cutoffs in the high mountains, whereas Zabel is more of a maillot vert type, contesting sprints and scooping up placings every day. While Petacchi might actually survive the whole vanilla Tour, he's gonna be in deep sheit during the last week of the Giro. He also can't be counted on in any but the flattest classics, whereas Zabel can and will finish every grand tour, and every one-day race as well. Get him in a break, and he's got a win. Let him contest sprints in harder races when Petacchi can't get to the line with anything left in the tank. Send Zabel after the Cyclassics, when Petacchi is just as likely to be resting for Spain.

I love CS, but the rivalry story is just a cheap shot in this case. Milram got themselves two bites at the apple with this lineup, and there's no evidence that it won't work out just fine.