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"Petacchi è tornato"

It's not clear to me whether this headline at La Gazzetta means Alessandro Petacchi has returned to his former greatness, or he's a tornado. Having been clocked at a closing speed of 74km/hour (~46mph), either description sounds about right.

Ale-Jet was understandably, if somewhat extremely, emotional at the finish. Between the free-flowing tears, CN gleaned this from the RAI interview:

I suffered so much. I am so happy. I want to thank everyone that stuck with me for the last year; my wife, my family, my friend Michele Bartoli... Thanks; thanks to everyone.

The suffering began a year ago last Tuesday, when Petacchi touched the floor with his formerly intact kneecap as the Tour of the Italian Diaspora rolled through Belgium. The significance of today's win isn't so much that his kneecap has come back, but that he finally regained the strength in both legs that had, up til then, made him a semi-legend, under the right conditions.

Petacchi found the right conditions today, namely room to maneuver and a place at the tip of the spear with some 300 meters to go. Only a few challengers made it around Thor Hushovd's prone body and bike (he seemed OK afterwards) to stick to Petacchi's wheel, including danger-men Robbie McEwen and Robert Förster, but neither could do anything to overcome Ale-Jet's top speed, as the big Italian stayed away for his 20th career Giro stage win.

Here are Petacchi's list of wins, if you're curious.

Tomorrow is an unusually early rest day, as the entire operation is airlifted to the mainland. Obviously this is the result of moving from Cagliari, but why an off-day is necessary to do this, in the modern age, isn't clear. There is a comprehensive Giro history site where you can get at least some minimal history from every stage. Twice before the race has passed through Cagliari, and in one case the Giro managed to get right back to work. In 1961, the race moved from Cagliari overnight to Marsala, in the west of Sicily, and managed to race to Palermo the next day, where they then (wisely) took a respite. Apparently nobody enjoyed it, or maybe Sicily is that much more convenient than the Boot, because when the Giro was back in Cagliari in 1991, the race took an extra day to trek over to Sorrento on the mainland, which I believe isn't far from Wednesday's departure city of Salerno. Anyway, it's a lot of moving for the riders, but the international press should be in a good mood after an extra day at the beach.