Petacchi beaten by back to his best Bettini
Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) just missed out on winning his fifth Vuelta stage in Valladolid, as an impressive Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) surged with 200 metres to go in the uphill sprint to claim a clear victory. Petacchi had to fight all the way to get past Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Phonak), but didn't have enough to reach Bettini. The Italian team now looks very solid for the World Championships in Madrid.
There were no changes to the general classification in what was a fairly flat, uneventful stage. A medium sized breakaway containing Jorge Garcia (Relax), Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank), Bart Dockx (Davitamon-Lotto), Arnaud Coyot (Cofidis), Marcus Ljungqvist (Liquigas), André Korff (T-Mobile), Sébastien Chavanel (Bouygues), and Matteo Tosatto (Fassa Bortolo) got clear after 17 km, but only managed to gain 40 seconds over the hard working peloton. Leon Van Bon (Davitamon-Lotto) and Francisco Perez (Illes Balears) bridged up after 67 km, but it was all back together at 75 km.
Liberty Seguros kept control of the peloton for the next 45 km until Angel Gomez (Saunier Duval) and Nacor Burgos (Relax) attacked with 40 km to go. They gained a minute, but quickly lost it as several teams lifted the pace and it was all together with 15 km to go. Fassa led out the sprint again, but the uphill finish proved to be too much for Petacchi, who is nevertheless in very good form in light of the World's.