Youth yields to age

Austin American-Statesman - - SPORTS - — Suzanne Hal­libur­ton

Alessandro Pe­tac­chi hasn’t raced at the Tour de France in six years be­cause of health is­sues and a dop­ing sus­pen­sion. Even so, he’s eas­ily shaken the rust of his 36-year-old legs to take the head­lines away from sprinter Mark Cavendish, the 25-year- old who won six Tour stages a year ago.

Pe­tac­chi has won two stages this week, giv­ing him six Tour stage vic­to­ries in his ca­reer.

Cavendish, mean­while, is not in the same shape as he was a year ago. He had cos­metic den­tal surgery ear­lier this year and then de­vel­oped an in­fec­tion. It kept him from putting in the train­ing he needed to pre­pare fully for the Tour de France.

Rid­ers with HTC-Columbia, Cavendish’s team, set up a per­fect lead-out train for him near the end of Stage 4, but he couldn’t keep up with Pe­tac­chi.

“I felt re­ally good dur­ing the stage,” Cavendish said. “I feel sorry for my team­mates who rode un­be­liev­ably and I just didn’t fin­ish it off at the end.”

Pe­tac­chi had prob­lems ear­lier this year, suf­fer­ing from the flu at the Giro d’Italia, the most im­por­tant race for an Ital­ian star.

He also served an odd sus­pen­sion re­lated to his use of an asthma med­i­ca­tion in 2007. While Pe­tac­chi had per­mis­sion to use the med­i­ca­tion, he was found to have used too much of it, al­though a ar­bi­tra­tion court rul­ing de­clared his overuse to be un­in­ten­tional. Still, the court chided him for not us­ing enough cau­tion.

Asthma med­i­ca­tion can be con­sid­ered a per­for­manceen­hanc­ing drug be­cause it opens up air­ways, im­prov­ing breath­ing.

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