Tour-Sprinter Petacchi struggles to find speed

Updated: July 5, 2004, 2:14 PM ET

By Stephen Farrand

NAMUR, Belgium, July 5 - Italy's Alessandro Petacchi is considered to be the best sprinter in cycling but he has struggled in the two high speed finishes so far in this year's Tour de France.

Petacchi was only eighth in Sunday's stage one to Charleroi behind Jaan Kirsipuu and again in Namur at the end of stage two, which was won by Robbie McEwen.

After 12 months of consistent victories in sprint finishes, including a record nine stage wins in May's Giro d'Italia, he is wondering what has gone wrong.

"I can't seem to sprint as I really want to, there's always somebody in the way or something happens," the 30-year-old Fassa Bortolo rider said on Monday.

"I touched the wheel of my team mate in front of me four or five times because other riders tried to push me out of the way, it was incredible."

"McEwen won like I won my four stages in last year's Tour. He came from behind and managed to accelerate past everyone."

"The team worked well in the final kilometres but there was no room to get past and I almost crashed."

"All I can do is keep trying and hope things start going my way."

With the first half of the Tour made up of flat stages across northern France, Petacchi should have plenty of opportunities to find his form.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index