Petacchi concedes defeat to Mighty Thor
Despite his Milram locomotive working overtime towards the finale, Alessandro Petacchi is yet to notch a win in Tirreno-Adriatico. On Saturday's fourth stage to Civitanova Marche, the expectant tifosi saw Ale-Jet's afterburners run out of steam as Norweigan Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) powered past the 2005 Milan-San Remo champion in the final metres, also beating yesterday's stage winner Oscar Freire (Rabobank).
"The finish was flat with head wind, which is something I like," said Hushovd on his website, thor-hushovd.com. "When Milram led it out, I was far behind. One rider from Acqua e Sapone rode up and I took his wheel. When Alessandro Petacchi went for his sprint, I passed him. I was on the left hand side of the road and he was on the right. I beat him out by half a wheel. It wasn't easy but it went OK."
"The honour goes to Hushovd because he made a beautiful sprint," admitted Petacchi. "My team-mates worked overtime, but this time I made a mistake. I told Zabel to roll off too soon and as a consequence, I was released too far from the finish.
"To do 230 metres of sprinting into a headwind is too much, even for me. I must say, however, that Hushovd, even though he came from behind and benefited [from my draft], sprinted almost as far as me - let me repeat: he was really strong. My condition is very good, perhaps more than last year; today I made a mistake, but the important thing is to feel good for Sanremo," he said.
Unfortunately once again, crashes formed part of the day's proceedings with Filippo Simeoni (Naturino-Sapore Di Mare) the most seriously hurt, who was braced and transported to hospital via ambulance. Other riders who did not finish included Andrea Tonti (Acqua Sapone), Manuele Mori (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Alberto Ongarato (Team Milram), Matthieu Sprick (Bouygues Telecom), Leon Van Bon (Davitamon-Lotto) and Marco Milesi (Liquigas).