Petacchi revs up for Worlds

Alessandro Petacchi continues to dominate the sprint wars at the Vuelta a Espana. Meanwhile, Heras s

Alessandro Petacchi continues to dominate the sprint wars at the Vuelta a Espana. Meanwhile, Heras s
PIC BY TIM DE WAELE Alessandro Petacchi underlined his status as the hot favourite for the forthcoming world championship road race in Madrid by romping to his fourth stage victory in this year's Vuelta a Espana in Burgos on Thursday. The Fassa Bortolo sprinter looked to be nearing his best form as he easily beat Marco Zanotti and Erik Zabel into second and third-place respectively. In so doing, the Italian drew within one of his personal best victory haul in the Vuelta - the five victories he bagged in 2003. While Petacchi can savour the prospect of more glory in the days to come, Tom Boonen must be increasingly concerned at his lack of form just over two weeks short of the Worlds. The Belgian, who shone in Petacchi's absence at the Tour de France, has so far fallen well short of his billing as the Italian's number one rival. Boonen's fourth-place yesterday meant that he remains winless at the Vuelta. Another man with plenty to think about ahead of Friday's undulating, 196km stage from Burgos to Ampuero is Roberto Heras. The Spaniard, who lies second on general classification behind Denis Menchov, was one of a gaggle of riders who fell 95km into Thursday's stage. The Liberty Seguros rider was grimacing as he crossed the line in Burgos and later received 15 stitches to two cuts around his left knee. The wounds were also treated with anti-inflammatory cream. Heras's resumption of the race today is not in doubt, but the Spaniard may yet suffer the ill-effects of the crash today and particularly on the crucial mountain stage to the Lagos de Covadonga on Saturday. Results 1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 133km in 3.13.36 2 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile 3 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Liquigas - Bianchi 4 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step 5 Heinrich Haussler (Ger) Gerolsteiner 6 Jimmy Casper (Fra) Cofidis 7 Julian Dean (NZl) Crdit Agricole 8 Anthony Geslin (Fra) Bouygues Telecom 9 Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Cofidis 10 Tom Steels (Bel) Davitamon - Lotto Overall standings 1 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 48.21.11 2 Roberto Heras Hernandez (Spa) Liberty Seguros Team 0.47 3 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears-Caisse d'Epargne 1.53 4 Carlos Sastre (Spa) Team CSC 1.57 5 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 3.31 6 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 5.03 7 Manuel Beltran (Spa) Discovery Channel 5.09 8 Juan Miguel Mercado (Spa) Quick Step 5.45 9 Ruben Plaza Molina (Spa) Comunidad Valenciana 5.58 10 Michele Scarponi (Ita) Liberty Seguros 6.37

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