Alessandro Petacchi won stage two of Tirreno-Adriatico Thursday along the Mar Tirreno in Marina di Carrara, Italy. The Italian of LPR Brakes-Farnese Vini sprinted clear of Daniele Bennati (Liquigas) after 177 kilometres of racing from Volterra. Spaniard Koldo Fernández (Euskaltel-Euskadi) finished slightly behind the duo in third.
"I did a great race today: strong on the climb and my teammates protected me – Di Luca, Bernucci, everyone. To win after a lot of bad luck with my knee and other problems is great," said Petacchi.
Teams LPR, Katusha and Liquigas divided the sprint work with five kilometres remaining. Petacchi's team really showed its muscle in the final two kilometres, not far from their captain's home in La Spezia.
Petacchi's final lead-out man, Lorenzo Bernucci, was at full gas out of the final corner with 300 metres to go. He dropped off to the right to give way to the duel of Italy's fastest men. Petacchi kept rival Bennati at bay for the win, two weeks after he did the same in stage five of the Giro di Sardegna.
"I crashed before the penultimate climb," said Bennati. "My teammates – Sabatini and Agnoli – pulled me back, but I wasted a lot of energy for the sprint."
France's Julien El Farès maintains the race leader's blue jersey that he took after winning stage one yesterday. The Cofidis rider leads the race over Petacchi by 15 seconds.
"It is an honour to have this jersey. There is no pressure on me for the classification because the team did not come here to win it," El Farès said.
Another day, another duo
One day after the mega (and successful) escape of El Farès and Duma, two riders went clear in stage two. Marcin Sapa (Lampre-NGC) attacked at kilometre 20. Italian Ermanno Capelli (Fuji-Servetto) joined the Polish Champion soon after the town of San Giovanni, where the Coppa Sabatini runs.
Their lead over the peloton steadily grew on the run north to Marina di Carrara. By kilometre 122, on the outskirts of Lucca, the gap was at 4:58.
In the main group there was a crash that involved several riders. Worst off was Janez Brajkovic (Astana), who had to abandon the race. Thomas Lövkvist (Columbia-Highroad) and Tom Boonen (Quick Step) were also involved.
At the entrance of the Marina di Carrara circuit, with 32 kilometres to race, the duo had 3:28 in hand over the peloton led by Liquigas and Saxo Bank. Capelli felt the heat of the closing group. He attacked his companion Sapa at kilometre 152, at the start of Ponti di Vara.
The rider from Bergamo immediately distanced the larger Sapa on the climb. Petacchi's LPR team was at the front of the chase near the area's famous marble mines. The marble dust caused a rider to slip on a corner. Boonen and El Farès both crashed as a result.
Capelli made it to the top of Ponti di Vara with only 20 seconds over the chase led by Liquigas' Ivan Basso and Vincenzo Nibali. He faced a descent and then the classified climb of Bedizzano, 283 metres in elevation. Capelli's day off the front ended just 500 metres shy of the top of Bedizzano.
The Giro d'Italia favourites – Gilberto Simoni, Davide Rebellin, Basso, Nibali, Danilo Di Luca, Stefano Garzelli – took over in the final metres of the climb and distanced many of the sprinters, including Mark Cavendish (Columbia-Highroad) and Boonen. Rebellin led Garzelli over the top of the climb to start the run to the finish.
Garzelli forced the pace on the descent to keep the sprinters' teams from re-joining. The group reformed, but without Cavendish, Thor Hushovd (Cervélo TestTeam) and Boonen.
Friday the 13th
The riders will cover 166 kilometres from Fucecchio to Santa Croce sull'Arno, in Toscana, tomorrow. There is one minor climb with 40 kilometres to race in what should be a stage for the sprinters.