PIC BY LAVUELTA.COM
He may be lacking in racing and unhappy with the hot conditions, but Alessandro Petacchi is starting to hoover up stage wins at the Vuelta, adding today's fourth stage to yesterday's first success in this year's race. Tour de France green jersey winner Thor Hushovd got closest to the Italian, with Erik Zabel, reportedly set to join Petacchi at Domina Vacanze next season, third.
Brad McGee kept his lead at the end of the Vuelta's longest stage, which passed through the heart of Don Quijote country, 400 years after the publication of Cervantes' epic Spanish novel.
The main break of the day was started by Leon van Bon after just a couple of kilometres. The nippy Dutchman was joined by a trio of French riders - Christophe Edaleine, Sbastien Joly and Frdric Finot. The quartet got 10 minutes clear, then were reduced to three as Van Bon fell back, and were finally caught 45km from home.
From there the control of the sprinters' teams was pretty much absolute. Petacchi was once again set up by Fassa Bortolo for his final burst, although Marco Velo appeared to pull away a bit too early. Petacchi, though, fought off his rivals to take his Vuelta roll of honour to 14 stages, and increase the impression that he will be the man to beat for the world title in nearby Madrid next month.
Stage 4, Ciudad Real-Argamasilla de Alba
1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 232.3km in 5.41.29
2 Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crdit Agricole
3 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile
4 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
5 Tom Steels (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto
6 Bernhard Eisel (Aut) Francaise des Jeux
7 Sbastien Chavanel (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
8 Tom Boonen (Bel) Quick Step
9 Giosu Bonomi (Ita) Lampre-Caffita
10 Ren Haselbacher (Aut) Gerolsteiner
1 Brad McGee (Aus) Francaise des Jeux 14.32.01
2 Leonardo Bertagnolli (Ita) Cofidis 0.32
3 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Saunier Duval 0.41
4 Patxi Vila (Spa) Lampre-Caffita 0.42
5 Unai Yus (Spa) Bouygues Telecom 0.53
6 Rik Verbrugghe (Bel) Quick Step 1.02
7 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC 1.12
8 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 1.17
9 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 1.20
10 David Bernabeu (Spa) Comunitat Valenciana
13 Christian Vande Velde (USA) CSC 1.25
16 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Euskaltel 1.31
17 Paco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears
21 Michael Barry (Can) Discovery Channel 1.34
PIC BY LAVUELTA.COM