Vuelta 7: Third win for Peta'

Sprint king Alessandro Petacchi took his third stage win out of seven at the Tour of Spain on Friday

Sprint king Alessandro Petacchi took his third stage win out of seven at the Tour of Spain on Friday
PICTURE BY TIM DE WAELE Alessandro Petacchi, Erik Zabel, Oscar Freire, Stuart O'Grady. Such has been the order across the finish line in each of the three stage victories that the Italian has won thus far at the Tour of Spain. An indication of the race's sprinters' hierarchy, perhaps? Petacchi finished a bike length in front of Zabel to win the seventh stage between the Mediterranean coastal towns of Castellon de la Plana and Valencia. The main breakaway of the day established itself 16km into the 170km stage. Seven riders - Erki Putsep (Ag2r), Ruslan Ivanov (Alessio), Herbert Gutierrez (Cafs Baqu), Daniele Righi (Lampre), Carlos Torrent (Paternina), Jose Miguel Elias (Relax-Bodysol) and Patrick Calcagni (Vini Caldirola) - worked well together, building a maximum lead of five minutes at the 45km mark. But a speeding bunch with the bit between their teeth was never going to allow them to get too far. It was the first four riders on the stage's teams in particular - Fassa Bortolo, T-Mobile, Rabobank and Cofidis - who worked well together in the closing stages, and the break was swallowed up with just over 15km to go. Was such a move all for nothing when the stage was always set for another bunch sprint? The seven riders' sponsors wouldn't say so, thanks to the television exposure such a long breakaway ensured. However, it was perhaps Elias who profited most with the Spaniard taking maximum points on the only major climb of the day, the second category Montemayor. He now lies second overall in the King of the Mountains competition, just one point behind Francisco Mancebo (Illes Balears). The peloton kept the pace at a dizzying 70kph along the windy coastline of the Mediterranean with 10km to go, and Paternina's David Fernandez's flyer out of the bunch as the field came into Valencia was extremely short lived. Cofidis, working for O'Grady, and Petacchi's Fassa Bortolo were active at the front, with race favourite, and winner of stage four, Alejandro Valverde, also present, although without any other members of his CV-Kelme team in sight. Around the last bend, and it was the Fassa 'silver train' who perfectly led out their man Petacchi who took over and led from the front, the raw power of the Italian leaving Zabel, Freire and O'Grady with no hope of getting past. After finishing safely in the bunch, US Postal's Manuel Beltran will start his third day in the gold leader's jersey for Saturday's time trial stage. The 40km course next to the Ford factory in Almussafes is likely to shake up the overall classification, with Beltran's US Postal team-mate Floyd Landis, Valverde, Cadel Evans (T-Mobile) and Phonak's Tyler Hamilton all in touching distance of the gold jersey. Stage 7, Castellon de la Plana - Valencia 1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 170km in 3.53.04 2 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile 3 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank 4 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis 5 Luca Paolini (Ita) Quick Step 6 Pedro Horrillo (Spa) Quick Step 7 Giosue Bonomi (Ita) Saeco 8 Andy Flickinger (Fra) Ag2r 9 Cristian Moreni (Ita) Alessio-Bianchi 10 Miguel Angel Martin Perdiguero (Spa) Saunier Duval 11 Marco Zanotti (Ita) Vini Caldirola 12 Antonio Cruz (USA) US Postal 13 Nicolas Inaudi (Fra) Ag2r 14 Arnaud Coyot (Fra) Cofidis 15 Julien Laidoun (Fra) Ag2r 16 Ion Del Rio (Spa) Costa del Almeria 17 Mariano Piccoli (Ita) Lampre 18 Ricardo Serrano (Spa) Cafs Baqu 19 Bram Tankink (Hol) Quick Step 20 Erki Putsep (Est) Ag2r 27 Michael Barry (Can) US Postal 34 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal 38 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 42 Denis Menchov (Rus) Illes Balears 53 Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal 59 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Phonak 65 Cadel Evans (Aus) T-Mobile 74 Joseba Beloki (Spa) Saunier Duval 151 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile 0.25 156 Robert Hunter (SA) Rabobank 0.45 157 Frank Hoj (Den) CSC 161 David Zabriskie (USA) US Postal 0.53 171 Matt White (Aus) Cofidis 4.46 Overall standings 1 Manuel Beltran (Spa) US Postal-Berry Floor 26.28.43 2 Floyd Landis (USA) US Postal 3 Denis Menchov (Rus) Illes Balears 0.04 4 Alejandro Valverde (Spa) CV-Kelme 0.09 5 Cadel Evans (Aus) T-Mobile 0.16 6 Benoit Joachim (Lux) US Postal 0.23 7 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears 0.39 8 Carlos Garcia Quesada (Spa) CV-Kelme 0.47 9 Victor Hugo Pe¤a (Col) US Postal 10 Tyler Hamilton (USA) Phonak 0.50 11 Aitor Gonzalez (Spa) Fassa Bortolo 0.52 12 Santiago Perez (Spa) Phonak 1.01 13 Roberto Heras (Spa) Liberty Seguros 1.07 14 Carlos Sastre (Spa) CSC 15 Dario Cioni (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 1.14 16 Isidro Nozal (Spa) Liberty Seguros 1.17 17 Damiano Cunego (Ita) Saeco 1.23 18 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile 1.27 19 Koldo Gil (Spa) Liberty Seguros 1.28 20 Ruben Plaza (Spa) CV-Kelme 1.32 31 Joseba Beloki (Spa) Saunier Duval 1.50 34 Stefano Garzelli (Ita) Vini Caldirola 2.09 87 Antonio Cruz (USA) US Postal 13.13 100 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis 17.37 114 Michael Barry (Can) US Postal 21.38 130 David Zabriskie (USA) US Postal 26.03 136 Frank Hoj (Den) CSC 27.35 144 Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) T-Mobile 30.28 157 Robert Hunter (SA) Rabobank 33.22 177 Matt White (Aus) Cofidis 46.55 Points 1 Erik Zabel (Ger) T-Mobile 92 2 Stuart O'Grady (Aus) Cofidis 90 3 Oscar Freire (Spa) Rabobank 87 Mountains 1 Francisco Mancebo (Spa) Illes Balears 17 2 Jose Miguel Elias (Spa) Relax-Bodysol 16 3 Manuel Quinziato (Ita) Lampre 16
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