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The odds on Alessandro Petacchi winning today's stage to Lissone must have been very short. With Aussie sprinters Robbie McEwen, Baden Cooke and Stuart O'Grady all quitting the Giro over the weekend, the Italian was facing a significantly reduced cast of characters. The weather played its part too, with bad conditions forcing the race organisers to pull the Forcola climb from the schedule, knocking 50 tough early kilometres off the stage in the process.
The result? A Petacchi win of course. Although the winning distance for the Fassa Bortolo sprinter was not as comprehensive as the three bike lengths he put between himself and the rest on stage 12, no one ever looked like getting out of the Italian's slipstream, let alone alongside him.
After the Fassa 'train' had set their man up for the finish, T-Mobile's Erik Zabel pushed Petacchi closest, but the German veteran both started and ended the sprint a bike length down. The victory was Petacchi's third of the race and comes before Tuesday's rest day.
After Petacchi had blown the rest away with predictable and extremely impressive ease, there was a flutter of excitement a distance behind him as Isaac Galvez and Aurlien Clerc indulged in a spot of push, shoving and finger pointing after both crashed beyond the line. The Swiss seemed to take exception to the Spaniard's actions, but, judging by the reaction of photographers in the area the culprit seemed to be one of their own.
The wet weather made for miserable riding conditions all day. It was perhaps no surprise that Classics specialist Roy Sentjens went away early on. The Dutchman was eventually joined and dropped by Selle Italia's Raffaele Illiano, who was himself caught by the Discovery Channel-led peloton on the road into Lissone. Matt Wilson tried to get away on the penultimate lap of the finishing circuit there, but never got more than a couple of hundred metres clear as Fassa started the set-up for their man Petacchi.
Stage 15, Villa di Tirano-Lissone
1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 147km in 3.32.41 (41.47kph)
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile
3 Paolo Bettini (Ita) Quick Step
4 Simone Cadamuro (Ita) Domina Vacanze
5 Marco Velo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
6 Paride Grillo (Ita) Panaria
7 Henk Vogels (Aus) Davitamon-Lotto
8 Robert Forster (Ger) Gerolsteiner
9 Isaac Galvez (Spa) Illes Balears
10 Sven Krauss (Ger) Gerolsteiner
1 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel 70.54.09
2 Danilo Di Luca (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 0.25
3 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 1.48
4 Juan Manuel Garate (Spa) Saunier Duval 2.11
5 Jos Rujano (Ven) Selle Italia 2.18
6 Pietro Caucchioli (Ita) Crdit Agricole 3.25
7 Serhiy Honchar (Ukr) Domina Vacanze 4.05
8 Emanuele Sella (Ita) Panaria 5.50
9 Dario Cioni (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi 6.40
10 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Illes Balears 6.44
Petacchi eases to Giro hat-trickClose
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