Alessandro Petacchi has taken the green jersey in the Tour de France after coming second to Mark Cavendish in Bourg-lès-Valence. The Italian overtook Thor Hushovd, who led the points classification for eight days in a row since winning stage 3 on the roads used in Paris-Roubaix.
Hushovd, the defending champion of the green jersey, was angry with himself for not finishing better, admitting that he's not as quick in the sprints as he has been. But he vowed to continue to fight.
"I was too passive in the sprint," Hushovd said after the finish. "I was too scared, too. All the riders who went on my side, I let them pass and I lost. My tactic was to follow Petacchi to defend the jersey, but that's something I have to change. I'm not happy with myself today."
Petacchi now has a four point advantage over Hushovd while Robbie McEwen, who finished fifth in Bourg-lès-Valence, is nine points down on the Norwegian, so he remains in contention for a fourth win in the points classification of the Tour de France.
"It's not going to be easy to keep the green jersey until we reach Paris," Petacchi concluded. "Yesterday I went for the intermediate sprint because Hushovd, McEwen and I are very close in the points classification. We'll probably fight for other intermediate sprints. I'm confident after the good work done by my team today. The way Danilo Hondo brought me back to the front was exceptional."
"My position now makes me think of the 2003 Tour de France," Petacchi explained. "Seven years ago, I didn't have the grinta (determination) that I have now to finish the Tour and win the green jersey. My directeur sportif at the time, Giancarlo Ferretti, was very upset when I pulled out of the Tour although I had the green jersey."
At the age of 36, Petacchi looks as fully motivated on French roads as on those of his own country. "It was a very hard sprint today," he said. "I managed to finish just behind Cavendish and I got the green jersey for a couple of days. Cavendish is very fast at the moment. Because there was a little downhill towards the finish, he had the advantage because he is small. I've lost a bit of speed, but I'm very happy with today's outcome."
The Italian commented on the incident with Mark Renshaw, who got kicked out of the race. "I haven't seen the sprint properly," he said. "I saw Renshaw going head to head with Julian Dean but I also saw Dean trying to box Renshaw in."