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Alessandro Petacchi claimed his 100th pro win and no less than his 13th at the Vuelta when he outsprinted Erik Zabel, Tom Boonen and Thor Hushovd in Puertollano on Monday. Most of the post-stage talk, however, focused on the extremely high temperatures, which went as high as 45 degrees Centigrade as the race headed north from Cordoba.
Despite only two days of racing coming into the Vuelta since the Giro finished back at the end of May, Petacchi delivered the final flourish after being set up perfectly by his Fassa Bortolo 'train'. The victory made the Italian just the third member of an elite group of riders who have 100 victories or more to their credit, alongside Robbie McEwen and Jaan Kirsipuu.
Like most of his colleagues, though, Petacchi's thoughts were mostly on the heat. "It's inhuman," said the Italian, who admitted he had suffered during the stage. "Doctors would say that it is not advisable to ride in temperatures like these." Petacchi explained that he still felt his best form was some way off after spending most of July and August training. His focus is very much on peaking for the world road race championship in Madrid on September 25.
Illes Balears' team doctor Jesus Hoyos told AS that riders would probably drink two litres of water an hour in the temperatures that are affecting drought-hit southern Spain at the moment. He estimated that during today's 232km stage to Argamasilla, the longest of the race, some riders would get through 12 litres of water.
Hoyos explained that it is vital for riders to drink small quantities of water often, as well as aquatonic drinks containing vital salts and minerals. It is essential, he added, that drinks are not too cold in order to avoid digestive problems that could affect a rider's form for two or three days. In addition, riders also need to keep eating, even though it might feel like the last thing they want to do when the heat is so oppressive.
The heat reached similar intensity to the 2003 Tour Down Under, when Fassa lead-out man Fabio Sacchi, then with Saeco, complained to race director Mike Turtur that conditions were not fit for racing. Turtur pithily told the Italian to get on with doing his job, and Turtur's compatriot Brad McGee did just that yesterday, retaining a 32-second advantage over stage two winner Leo Bertagnolli.
Stage 3, Cordoba-Puertollano
1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 153.3km in 3.48.41 (40.22kph)
2 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile
3 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
4 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crdit Agricole
5 Giosu Bonomi (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
6 Max van Heeswijk (Hol) Discovery Channel
7 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Phonak
8 Tom Steels (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto
9 Marco Velo (Ita) Fassa Bortolo
10 Patrick Calcagni (Swi) Liquigas-Bianchi
1 Brad McGee (Aus) Franaise des Jeux 8.50.32
2 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Cofidis 0.32
3 Juan Antonio Flecha (Spa) Fassa Bortolo 0.39
4 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Saunier Duval 0.41
5 Angel Vicioso (Spa) Liberty Seguros
6 Patxi Vila (Spa) Lampre-Caffita 0.42
7 Unai Yus (Spa) Bouygues Telecom 0.53
8 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Quick Step 1.02
9 Denis Menchov (Rus) Rabobank 1.05
10 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC 1.12
11 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 1.17
12 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 1.20
16 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Lampre-Caffita 1.25
17 Christian Vande Velde (USA) CSC
20 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel 1.31
21 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears
25 Michael Barry (Can) Discovery Channel 1.34
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