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Last Updated: Friday, 25 June, 2004, 14:29 GMT 15:29 UK
Alessandro Petacchi
PETACCHI FACTFILE
Alessandro Petacchi
DOB: 3/1/74
Nationality: Italian
Best Tour: Four stage wins - 2003
Alessandro Petacchi was the undoubted king of the sprints in 2003, the man whose wheels every speedstar wanted to be locked onto.

Prior to last season, the Italian had never quite managed to oust the likes of Erik Zabel and Robbie McEwen.

But no one came close to him when it mattered last year.

He finished with four stage wins in the Tour de France, five in the Vuelta d'Espana and six in his home event - the Giro d'Italia.

Such efforts saw him catapulted up the world rankings and he has continued that form into this season, notably by winning the opening stage of Italy's first big stage race of the season - the Tirreno-Adriatico.

But most remarkable of all were his histrionics in this year's Giro, during which he won a world record nine stages.

His aggressive sprinting style, however, has angered some of his peers and the French were left irritated when he bowed out of last year's Tour on the opening mountain stage.

He has promised he plans to avoid a repeat.





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