Tour of Britain 1: Alessandro Petacchi is back

Italian sprinter wins in London

Alessandro Petacchi (LPR Brakes) powered his way down the Victoria Embankment to win the bunch sprint and take the first stage of the Tour of Britain. He timed his effort perfectly to hold off a fast finishing Rob Hayles (Great Britain) and Magnus Bäckstedt (Team Team Garmin-Chipotle p/b H30)

The rain stayed away except for some light drizzle on the London streets adjacent to the River Thames with the race starting at a leisurely pace for the 156 riders on the 8km circuit stretching from Big Ben to Tower Hill.

Danilo Di Luca was active throughout the stage and was a key member of a the seven man break that was away for middle section of the race. Di Luca went clear with Chris Sutton (Garmin Chipotle), Simon Clarke (SouthAustralia.com), Anders Lund (Team Columbia), Tom Southam (Great Britain), Kristian House (Rapha Condor Recycling.co.uk) and Daryl Impey (Barloworld).

Stuart O'Grady and the CSC Saxo Bank team put the hammer down to bring back the escapees with two laps to go. Di Luca attacked again but could not stay clear. The race was all together on the final lap with Petacchi attacking down the left hand side and opening up a clear lead in the final 200m. Hayles and Bäckstedt's were side by side battling for second spot with the British road race champion taking the verdict over the former Paris Roubaix winner.

The Italian Petacchi had time to spare as he crossed the finish line to take the stage and the race leader's yellow jersey.

For full results, report and photos, visit Cyclingnews.com.

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