McGee looking good in gold
By Anthony Tan
For the second time in as many days, Fassa Bortolo super-sprinter Alessandro Petacchi and his team were head and shoulders above the rest, delivering yet another perfect result in Argamasilla de Alba. Tour de France maillot vert winner Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) came closer than anyone to the untouchable Ale-Jet, placing second, while Erik Zabel (T-Mobile) showed his consistency by taking the remaining podium place. Race leader Bradley McGee looks set to continue his spell in the golden tunic at least until Stage 6 on Thursday, which finishes atop the first category climb of Valdelinares.
"Today, after 233 kilometres, I made the best sprint and am satisfied," said a delighted Petacchi.
"However, to complicate things, a rider became part of our train in front of [Marco] Velo and we thought he wanted to do his job in the sprint. Instead, when [Alberto] Ongarato moved [over], he also moved, leaving too big a gap. At that point, Velo had to leave [the train] early and clearly decreased our speed in the end because he was tired."
Asked about his status as one of the favourites for the world road championships in Madrid, Petacchi said: "As far as the World's go, I will only say I have won two stages of the Vuelta and that the race on the 25th of September will be a long one and difficult to control. At the moment, I lack a little power and I hope that this Vuelta helps me to find it."
The longest stage of the 2005 Vuelta was characterised by an early breakaway of four riders, instigated by Leon Van Bon (Davitamon-Lotto) after just three kilometres and soon joined by Christophe Edaleine (Cofidis), Frédéric Finot (Française des Jeux) and Sébastien Joly (Crédit Agricole). The quartet's lead reached a maximum 12 minutes at the 87 kilometre mark, before the sprinters' teams of Fassa Bortolo, T-Mobile, Domina Vacanze and Quick.Step came to fore, and steadily chipped away at their lead until it was peloton groupé 100 kilometres later.
Although a few more tried their luck in the finale, the inexorable pace of the peloton led to the inevitable bunch sprint, and with four Fassas at the front with two kilometres to go, Alessandro Petacchi was once again granted an armchair ride to the finish line - and didn't let the Silver side down.