Mark Cavendish has a powerful new weapon in his leadout train after Alessandro Petacchi signed for Omega Pharma-QuickStep until the end of 2014.
The six-time Tour de France stage winner, who also won the green jersey in 2010, comes out of retirement to join the team and will make his debut at Kortrijk criterium on August 8, before riding the seven-stage Eneco Tour on August 12-18.
AleJet is one of cycling’s most decorated sprinters, having amassed 48 Grand Tour stage wins, as well as victories in Milan-San Remo and Paris-Tours. Petacchi and Cavendish are also both members of an exclusive club of five riders who have won the points classifications in all three Grand Tours, along with Eddy Merckx, Djamolidine Abdoujaparov and Laurent Jalabert.
However, Petacchi has joined Omega Pharma-QuickStep not to add to his palmares, but to provide additional firepower to Cavendish’s leadout train, which has faltered at times since the Manx Missile’s move from Team Sky.
“I joined this team to take on a different role, to be a team player, especially when it comes to the sprints,” said Petacchi. “The primary objective is to be useful to the team when necessary and to put my experience to the service of the younger riders.”
Petacchi started the season with Lampre-Merida but retired in April and the 39-year-old was immediately linked to a move to Omega Pharma-QuickStep, who had wanted to bolster Cavendish’s leadout train for the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France.
However, the move was initially vetoed by the UCI as riders are not allowed to move between teams until cycling’s transfer window opened on August 1.
Petacchi added: “In my career I’ve been lucky enough to experience some extreme thrills. To get back in the game so close to turning 40 with this great team is, however, an incredible feeling.
“I want to thank the team, starting with Patrick Lefevere and the team’s board who offered me this great possibility.”