Petacchi off to winning start

Alessandro Petacchi is pushed close in his season debut but gives Milram their first pro win, while

Alessandro Petacchi is pushed close in his season debut but gives Milram their first pro win, while


After recording four second places in Qatar thanks to Erik Zabel, Team Milram got their first win in professional cycling when Alessandro Petacchi won Saturday's 11th edition of the GP Costa degli Etruschi, the opening race of the Italian season. Petacchi beat emerging Lampre sprint duo Daniele Bennati and Danilo Napolitano, a pair who seem likely to emerge as increasing forces in bunch sprints this season.

"Today I've come through an important test," said Petacchi. "I've shown that I'm in good form after a race of around 220km, now I will have to work hard on showing more cutting edge in the sprints. Bennati and Napolitano were close to getting the better of me, forcing me to lead out into the wind 250 metres from the line. For a moment I thought that I was in danger of losing, but I managed to pick up my pace."

1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Milram 193km 4.39.40 (41.38kph)
2 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Lampre
3 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Lampre
4 Andrus Aug (Est) Acqua e Sapone
5 Krzysztof Szczawinski (Pol) Ceramica Flaminia
6 Domenico Loria (Ita) Universal Caff
7 Paolo Bossoni (Ita) Tenax
8 Daniele Colli (Ita) Liquigas
9 Gabriele Bosisio (Ita) Tenax
10 Giosu Bonomi (Ita) Barloworld

- Chocolade Jacques' Frederik Willems continues to lead at the Etoile de Bessges going into Sunday's final stage. But although Belgian leads, French riders have shown encouraging winning form over the past couple of days, with Francaise des Jeux's Eric Leblacher scoring a breakaway win on Friday's main mountain stage, where Britain's Steve Cummings was also in the thick of the action, finishing third. Saturday's stage was won by Stphane Petilleau from the Bretagne-Jean Floc'h team.

Stage 3, Portes-Les Salles du Gardon

1 Eric Leblacher (Fra) Francaise des Jeux 140km in 3.31.21 (39.74kph)
2 Sbastien Joly (Fra) Francaise des Jeux 1.20
3 Steve Cummings (GB) Landbouwkrediet
4 Sylvain Chavanel (Fra) Cofidis 1.22
5 Bert Scheirlinckx (Bel) Jartazi
6 Pieter Mertens (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 1.26
7 David Le Lay (Fra) Bretagne-Jean Floc'h 1.28
8 Angel Castresana (Spa) 2.04
9 Pasquale Muto (Ita) Miche
10 Anthony Charteau (Fra) Crdit Agricole

Stage 4, Les Fumades-Allgre les Fumades

1 Stphane Ptilleau (Fra) Bretagne-Jean Floc'h 151km in 3.36.25 (41.86kph)
2 Andr Greipel (Ger) T-Mobile 0.10
3 Jean-Luc Delpech (Fra) Bretagne-Jean Floc'h
4 Bjrn Leukemans (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto
5 Lars Bak (Den) CSC
6 Giairo Ermeti (Ita) LPR
7 Nicolas Vogondy (Fra) Crdit Agricole 0.14
8 Frdric Amorison (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
9 Andy Capelle (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
10 Hubert Dupont (Fra) Ag2r 1.17


1 Frederik Willems (Bel) Chocolade Jacques-Topsport 14.28.24
2 Preben van Hecke (Bel) Davitamon-Lotto 0.26
3 Thomas Voeckler (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
4 Michael Blaudzun (Den) CSC 0.32
5 Ludovic Turpin (Fra) Ag2r 0.36
6 Mads Kaggestad (Nor) Crdit Agricole
7 Brian Vandborg (Den) CSC 0.43
8 Sylvain Calzati (Fra) Ag2r 1.55
9 Maxime Mdrel (Fra) Auber 93 2.30
10 Kilian Patour (Fra) Crdit Agricole 2.15

- Argentinian riders maintained the winning feeling on Saturday's second stage of the Tour de Langkawi, where Panaria's Ruben Bongiorno won the bunch sprint ahead of team-mate and compatriot Maximiliano Richeze, who won the first stage and held on to the overall lead. Britain's Mark Cavendish, riding for the national team was right in contention, finishing fourth.

Stage 2, Tanjung Malim-Sitiawan

1 Ruben Bongiorno (Arg) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare 164.7km in 3.59.24 (41.28kph)
2 Maximiliano Richeze (Arg) Panaria
3 Steffen Radochla (Ger) Wiesenhof
4 Mark Cavendish (GB) Great Britain
5 Filip Meirhaeghe (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
6 Samuele Marzoli (Ita) LPR
7 Gregory Habeaux (Bel) Landbouwkrediet
8 Anthony Ravard (Fra) Bouygues Telecom
9 Takashi Miyazawa (Jpn) Japan
10 Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) Selle Italia

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