By VeloNews Interactive, Copyright AFP2003
Things have certainly changed for the Italian Fassa Bortolo team on the Tour de France – and its experienced manager Giancarlo Ferretti admits he’s feeling rather short-handed.
Ferretti, who was on cloud nine in the first week of the Tour as 29-year-old sprinter Alessandro Petacchi added four impressive stage wins to the six he won in the Tour of Italy, has fallen back to earth after a virus decimated his team.
Fassa Bortolo have been operating with only three of their nine riders for the past six days – a peculiar but worrying situation which has left plenty of room on the team bus but is giving Ferretti nightmares.
“We’re feeling pretty fragile at the moment,” admitted the 70-year-old Ferretti, the oldest team manager on the Tour.
“We can’t stop thinking about the possibility of a fall or someone falling ill. It’s starting to keep me awake at night.”
The excitement caused by Petacchi’s four wins had Fassa on cloud nine but they were soon demoralized when the Italian abandoned the race on the first climb on the first day in the Alps.
Ferretti had criticized Petacchi for his quick escape however it later turned out the sprinter had been suffering from the same virus that ousted another three riders, including leader Aitor Gonzalez – last year’s Tour of Spain winner.
Ferretti is currently taking solace from the fact that young Ivan Basso, who last year won the white jersey for the Tour’s best under-25 rider, is the highest-placed Italian on the Tour in seventh place at 2min 25sec adrift of leader Lance Armstrtong.
However despite their relatively good victory tally, Ferretti admits he’s looking enviously at other teams.
“You can never be happy with things,” said Ferretti. “They (other teams) are envious of our four stage victories and we’re looking at them wishing we still had nine riders.”