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Petacchi third in criterium comeback

Alessandro Petacchi has returned to racing

Alessandro Petacchi has returned to racing (Image credit: AFP)

Alessandro Petacchi celebrated his return to the peloton with a third place finish in the T-Mobile Altstadt-Kriterium in Graz, Austria Tuesday evening. Robbie McEwen (Predictor-Lotto) took the win ahead of T-Mobile's Bernhard Eisel.

"I have ridden more criteriums than I can count," McEwen said. "This one here in Graz, with its narrow alleys - where you can pass only with difficulty - the nasty climbs and the cobblestones, surely is one of the most difficult in the world. But the sensational fans are the motivation for us to keep on going and the motivation to keep on riding clean."

"It was damned close, but Robbie is simply the strongest sprinter in the world," Eisel added. "He is also the freshest. I rode the complete Tour de France and Robbie dropped out after a little more than a week."

It was Petacchi's first race after being cleared by the Italian cycling federation on charges of having tested positive for an asthma medication. The team had suspended him after the Giro d'Italia and lifted the suspension last week when the charges were dismissed. SW

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