Sprinter Alessandro Petacchi has elaborated on his plans to ride for another country in light of the Italian Cycling Federation ruling to block riders who have served a doping suspension from riding for Italy in the World Championships.
At first, the Italian stated that he might potentially ride for Kazakhstan but now with extra time to plan a strategy, Petacchi is considering over a dozen countries.
In a free-wheeling interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, Petacchi made it clear he’s open to all possibilities and offers.
“Why not Rwanda or Gabon? This would be tremendous exposure those those African nations and I could have my wife Chiara design the kit. It’s an idea that intrigues me,” said Petacchi.
“Mongolia has contacted me and I am in discussions with their minister of sport. I am flying to Ulan Bantor to discuss details. I would not rule them out. If Italy is disinterested in a sprinter of my capabilities, then I must look elsewhere.”
Petacchi, along with Ivan Basso, Danilo Di Luca and Davide Rebellin are all banned from riding for the Italian team. But unlike the others, Petacchi is not giving up without a fight.
“Why not Papua New Guinea? I woke up last night and thought, yes, there is poetry in that. They are a very generous people and should I win the Worlds, I have been promised an honorary tribal position and a beach condo.”
The Italian has apparently been on the phone for the last two days, in a feverish campaign to find a new nationality and new ride in Copenhagen.
“I am willing to change my name, hair style and place of residence, That’s how much the Worlds mean to me. In sport and in life, sacrifices must be made,” said Petacchi.
Petacchi tested positive for Salbutamol in 2007 after over using his asthma medicine and was banned for a year. It’s not a year he thinks should hold him back from riding, for Italy or anyone else.
“Thailand appeals to me. Or even perhaps Laos. I am not particular and really, the people look the same. It is the opportunity that matters. Imagine the drama if I were to win the rainbow jersey for Thailand? It would be unforgettable, a first for the record books, a crowning achievement in my beautiful career,” said Petacchi.
For now, there have been no announcements and it remains to be seen what legal restrictions might come into play. Nevertheless the Italian is thinking big. “I have contacted the Pope. The Vatican CIty is a recognized sovereign city state,” said Petacchi. “What catholic would not be proud to ride for the Pope?”
“I am keeping my fingers crossed,” said Petacchi.