In the immediate aftermath of the Tour Down Under’s stage one sprint, winner Andre Greipel claimed that rival Alessandro Petacchi had deviated from his line.
“Petacchi went from left to right, he didn’t care about the crash. He’s a big star but he shouldn’t do this,” said the German sprinter for (Lotto-Belisol).
Petacchi pleaded innocence but a day later the truth came out. According to Lampre-ISD teammate Luca Spinarelli, Petacchi was afraid of physical abuse from GreenEdge’s Stuart O’Grady.
“O’Grady was being verbally abusive at the start and punching a few guys on the arm,” said Spinarelli. “He was holding a beer and threw a bottle at one of the Garmin guys.”
O’Grady is being questioned by police over charges of abuse filed by a chauffeur who picked O’Grady, his wife wife and two friends from a winery several days ago.
“When we got into the last few hundred meters, O’Grady was threatening Alessandro, saying he was gonna take him down. That’s why Alessandro veered across the road — he thought O’Grady was about to attack him,” said Spinarelli.
The Aussie rider was reported to be “sad and disappointed” by the new allegations and openly questioned the timing of Spinarelli’s remarks. “I just find it very bizarre with the timing. This guy obviously has issues.”
Petacchi refused to comment on the affair and was not available for the media. Spinarelli, however, was not backing down on his statements. “Look, Greipel is an animal — look at his massive thighs — he isn’t scared of O’Grady. But Alessandro is 38 and doesn’t want to get hurt. Everyone knows O’Grady is a hot head.”
GreenEdge team manager Shayne Bannan stood behind his rider. “We’re concerned for the welfare of Stuey and to make sure that we’re running through the correct processes and doing everything correctly,” said Bannan. “I’ve never heard of this Spinarelli guy so I don’t much care what he says.”