Max makes most of Peta's flat

With Alessandro Petacchi sidelined from the final sprint by a late puncture, Max van Heeswijk takes

With Alessandro Petacchi sidelined from the final sprint by a late puncture, Max van Heeswijk takes

PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM

Max van Heeswijk continued his recent run of good form when he won the seventh stage of the Vuelta into Vinaroz this afternoon. The Discovery Channel sprinter took advantage of the absence from the finishing melee of double stage winner Alessandro Petacchi, who punctured six kilometres from the finish and was left with no time to get back to the front of the race.

As so often in recent seasons, Erik Zabel had to be content with second place, with Petacchi's Fassa Bortolo team-mate Alberto Ongarato third. Roberto Heras extended his lead by a handful of seconds by taking a cheeky victory at the final intermediate sprint of the day. He now leads Denis Menchov by 12 seconds.

Illes Balears DS Eusebio Unzue admitted he had never seen Heras looking as strong as he did on the climb to the Valdelinares resort yesterday. "Not only was he strong but he was surrounded by a team that also gave off a strong odour of power," said Unzue. "If Heras can maintain his level shown at Valdelinares in the Pyrenees then he has the Vuelta pretty much wrapped up. But this race is characterised by the surprises that can take place, so nothing is decided as yet."

Stage 7, Teruel-Vinaroz

1 Max van Heeswijk (Hol) Discovery Channel 212.5km in 5.21.21
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile
3 Alberto Ongarato (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
4 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
5 Tom Steels (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto
6 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crdit Agricole
7 Jos Ivan Gutierrez (Spa) Illes Balears
8 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
9 Samuel Sanchez (Spa) Euskaltel
10 Martin Elmiger (Swi) Phonak

Overall

1 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros-Wrth 29.03.28
2 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 0.12
3 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC 1.07
4 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Saunier Duval 1.09
5 David Blanco (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 1.11
6 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears 1.26
7 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana 1.39
8 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step
9 Unai Yus (Spa) Bouygues Telecom
10 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros 1.58
11 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 2.03

14 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 2.11

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