Vuelta 13: Petacchi scoops a fourth

Alessandro Petacchi proved too fast again in Spain on Friday. Tyler Hamilton, meanwhile, headed for

Alessandro Petacchi proved too fast again in Spain on Friday. Tyler Hamilton, meanwhile, headed for
If even chinks were taken out of Alessandro Petacchi's reputation as the world's best sprinter at the Tour de France, the Italian is certainly doing a fine restoration job at the Vuelta a Espana. Stage 13 to Malaga proved lucky for Petacchi, as the Fassa Bortolo missile notched his fourth sprint victory of the race. Yet again the Fassa Bortolo train was at its locomotive best and yet again Petacchi made no mistake. The indefatigable but these days ill-starred Erik Zabel was second. Quick Step's Pedro Horillo sneaked into third place. Earlier in the day it had been the withdrawal of Tyler Hamilton, more than the futile 110km breakaway attempt of four riders including Quick Step's Kevin Hulsmans, which had made the news. The American had been suffering from stomach problems for the last two days and did not sign on in El Ejido this morning. The Phonak rider leaves the Vuelta with a time-trial victory on stage 8 to his credit but having plummeted to 49th position overall. A general classification largely unchanged by today's stage can prepare for its next jolt in Granada on Saturday. Stage 14's 167km route features three classified climbs, the last of which, the Alto de Monachil, is nine kilometres long and boasts a maximum gradient of 14%. If the 20km descent into Granada might deter Roberto Heras from trying to extend his 35-seond advantage over Francisco Mancebo on GC, the Monachil is sure to soften up some would-be challengers before Sunday's Sierra Neveda individual time trial. Just as Heras sealed his Vuelta triumph in a mountain time trial in 2003, the Liberty Seguros leader will look to secure his gold jersey on the 29km route to the barren summit on Sunday. Stage 13, El Ejido-Malaga 1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 172km in 4.01.55 (42.66kph) 2 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile 3 Pedro Horrillo (Spa) Quick Step 4 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis 5 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio 6 Erki Putsep (Est) Ag2r 7 Eddy Mazzoleni (Ita) Saeco 8 Guido Trenti (USA) FassaBortolo 9 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Vini Caldirola 10 Antonio Cruz (USA) US Postal 11 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick Step 12 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Lampre 13 I¤aki Isasi (Spa) Euskaltel 14 David Fernandez (Spa) Costa de Almeria 15 Daniele Righi (Ita) Lampre 16 David Herrero (Spa) Costa de Almeria 17 Constantino Zaballa (Spa) Saunier Duval 18 Mariano Piccoli (Ita) Lampre 19 Bram Tankink (Hol) Quick Step 20 Guennadi Mikhailov (Rus) US Postal Overall standings 1 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 48.52.45 2 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears 0.35 3 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) CV-Kelme 0.49 4 Isidro Nozal (Spa) Liberty Seguros 1.12 5 Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal 2.19 6 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal 2.40 7 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC 3.16 8 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak 4.22 9 Angel Gomez (Spa) Costa de Almeria 5.07 10 David Blanco (Spa) CV-Kelme 6.12 Points standings 1 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile 148 2 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis 144 3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 120 Mountains standings 1 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 57 2 Felix Cardenas (Col) Cafes Baque 56 3 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears 53
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