PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM
Despite admitting after yesterday's stage that his form was not as good as it was a month or so ago when he won Milan-San Remo and rode very strongly in the hills at Tirreno-Adriatico, Alessandro Petacchi still took today's second stage of the Tour of Romandy in Fleurier and with it the overall lead from Oscar Pereiro.
The Italian hadn't fancied his chances on a stage that featured three big climbs, even though the last of them topped out 40km from the finish line. That assessment looked well made when Euskaltel's I¤igo Landaluze went clear after just 16km and built a lead that reached almost 10 minutes. He also took the lead in the mountains classification.
But as the Basque crossed the top of the third climb, Les Bayards, his lead was under four minutes and falling rapidly as Pereiro's Phonak team pushed hard on the front of the bunch. Scenting the chance to set up Petacchi for another winning dash, Fassa Bortolo threw their considerable weight behind the drive for the line and Landaluze's effort was ended just inside the last 10km.
Although Pereiro took a couple of bonus seconds at the final intermediate sprint, where Stefano Garzelli took the decision and three seconds back, the Spaniard's slim hopes that this might be enough to hold off Petacchi were soon dashed. With Mario Cipollini absent and Robbie McEwen still feeling his way back into form, Petacchi easily saw off Liquigas-Bianchi new pro Daniele Colli for the win and 10-second bonus, with Domina Vacanze's Mirco Lorenzetto third.
Pereiro should move back ahead of Petacchi on tomorrow's stage from the UCI's HQ at Aigle to the first-category finish at Anzre. There are two other first-cat climbs on a stage that will clarify the overall battle.
Stage 2, Fleurier-Fleurier
1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 171.9km in 4.17.13 (40.10kph)
2 Daniele Colli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
3 Mirco Lorenzetto (Ita) Domina Vacanze
4 Giovanni Lombardi (Ita) CSC
5 Josu Silloniz (Spa) Euskaltel
6 Julian Dean (NZ) Crdit Agricole
7 Andr Korff (Ger) T-Mobile
8 David Loosli (Swi) Lampre-Caffita
9 Volodymir Bileka (Ukr) Discovery Channel
10 David Etxebarria (Spa) Liberty Seguros
1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 8.04.24
2 Oscar Pereiro (Spa) Phonak 0.08
3 Paolo Savoldelli (Ita) Discovery Channel 0.12
4 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Liquigas-Bianchi
5 Brad McGee (Aus) Francaise des Jeux 0.13
6 Alexandre Moos (Swi) Phonak 0.15
7 Erik Dekker (Hol) Rabobank 0.16
9 Frank Schleck (Lux) CSC
10 Beat Zberg (Swi) Gerolsteiner 0.18