Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-Farnese Vini) stood gasping for breath just after the finish line in Revel as he waited to hear if he had scored enough points to retake the green jersey from main rival Thor Hushovd (Cervelo TestTeam).
Neither his team nor race officials were able to give an answer and so he set off, without a smile and without speaking to the media, for the Lampre team bus. A few minutes later he came back, this time with a smile on his face, knowing he was about to pull on the green jersey again.
"Cavendish beat me in the sprint for second but I scored points on Thor and got the jersey back. That's the important thing," he said after pulling on the green jersey.
Petacchi added 26 to his tally of now 187 points, while Hushovd was only eighth, scoring only 18 points and is now two points behind Petacchi. Mark Cavendish moved past Robbie McEwen still lags 25 points behind the lead and will have a difficult time making up that deficit.
"I think there will still be two sprints, in Bordeaux and Paris. I just have to control Thor in the intermediate sprints. He was clever
yesterday and got away. It's important he's doesn't get away in the Pyrenees."
Petacchi revealed he knew that Alexander Vinokourov was going to win the stage and that he was sprinting for second place. He decided to hit the front early to secure as many points as possible.
"It was a good finish for the sprinters but we hit the climb hard and our legs were tired. I knew Vino was away and knew he would win. That kind of attack is what Vino does best. I kept on Hushovd's wheel on the climb and we went up it fast and down the descent just as fast. I went early in the sprint to make sure I was at the front to make sure I got some points."
"Cavendish was strong. He didn't get over the climb at the front but he got back on with two kilometres to go and did well to win the bunch
sprint. He's still fast but it'll be difficult for him to get back in the battle for green. I think that is a head to head battle between me and Thor and might only be decided on the Champs Elysees."
Hushovd blames collarbone fracture for speed problems
Thor Hushovd was not smiling when he arrived at the Cervelo TestTeam bus. He was not happy with eighth place in the sprint. He revealed that he is lacking finishing speed after rushing his comeback following his collarbone fracture in early May.
“I am just a little bit disappointed and confused that I am not sprinting as well. Two months ago I broke my collarbone and haven’t
done any sprint training, and I am paying for this now,” he said.
Hushovd admitted that it will also be difficult for him to score points in intermediate sprints because of the position of the sprints
during the stages in the Pyrenees.
“I think it will be difficult to score more points because the intermediate sprints come on the flat early in the stage or after the
big climbs. I am climbing well, but I think it will be difficult,” he said.