Plan B works for Petacchi
Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) had to improvise a little bit to win his third stage of this year's Vuelta in the seaside town of Lloret de Mar. The classy Italian sprinter lost the wheel of his leadout man Marco Velo inside the final 500m, courtesy of a right-hand corner and a Credit Agricole push. Velo ended up leading out Thor Hushovd, who put his nose in front at 200m to go before Petacchi came from behind to power past the Norwegian. Paolo Bettini (Quick.Step) was also right up there in third, again wondering where Tom Boonen was.
"It wasn't a such a smooth ride as previously because of the final corners, where Quick.Step and crédit Agricole wanted to mingle with our train," Petacchi said. "I knew that the last 300 metres we'd have a headwind, so I preferred to come off from behind. On the last corner I was on Bettini's wheel and waited until Hushovd, who was second behind Velo, would come around to take his wheel. It went well.
"Now I know that there's a very difficult week ahead from an altimetric point of view. I'll use it to refine my preparation for the World's. I want to get to the finishes tired, but not destroyed. Then we'll talk about the World's again.
Petacchi's teammate Juan Antonio Flecha added, "I felt better today and was able to pull for a long time during the stage for Alessandro's sprint finish. I hope I'll continue to improve, because finishing this Vuelta means so much to me. I also would love to win a stage in the last week..."
There were no changes to the overall classification, and Roberto Heras will start tomorrow's 48 km time trial in Lloret de Mar with a 12 second gap over Denis Menchov. The Russian could well take back the golden jersey with a good ride in the TT.
The 189 km stage was a routine one for the sprinters' teams, who let a breakaway go after 6 km containing Bart Dockx (Davitamon-Lotto), Xavier Florencio (Relax Fuenlabrada), and Angel Gomez Gomez (Saunier Duval). The three rode out to a maximum lead of 10'40 before the inevitable happened and they were all caught with 14 km to go. A series of late attacks by Luis Pasamontes, Fredy Gonzalez (Relax) and Miguel Martin Perdiguero (Phonak) all failed, and the result was a slightly disorganised bunch sprint.