Alessandro Petacchi Wins Stage 2 of Tour of Catalunya 2011

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03/22/2011| 0 comments
by Reuters and Roadcycling.com

Alessandro Petacchi Wins Stage 2 of Tour of Catalunya 2011

Veteran Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi ended a six-month victory drought by winning the 169.3-km second stage of the Tour of Catalunya 2011 this afternoon.

Veteran Italian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi ended a six-month victory drought by winning the 169.3-km second stage of the Tour of Catalunya 2011 this afternoon.

One of cycling's most prolific winners with more than 160 victories to his name, Petacchi's last triumph was in a Tour of Spain stage in September.

The 37-year-old Lampre-ISD rider raised his arms after flashing across the finish line at Banyoles ahead of Jose Joaquin Rojas of Spain and Portugal's Manuel Cardoso. Latvian Gatis Smukulis of Team HTC-HighRoad kept the overall lead.

"It's a relief to get back to winning after such a bad start to the season," 2010 Tour de France points winner Petacchi told reporters. "It was a very tough sprint, there was a little climb on the final circuit that made it much harder.

"My team mate [Italian] Daniele Petropoli managed to help me stay close to the front in the final 500 meters. If it hadn't been for him and my team mates working so hard today, victory wouldn't have been possible."

Petacchi said it was only midway through Monday's opening stage that he knew the health problems that have plagued him this season were definitely behind him.

"Yesterday when I got over the climbs I realized I'd turned a corner and was getting back to normal," he said.

"I thought I would be able to go for the win but Smukulis was really strong and held on so I had to settle for second. Today though it all worked out right."

After Wednesday's uphill finish in Andorra the favorites for the overall classification are likely to move to the fore.

The 8-km final ascent is preceded by three first category climbs and one second category ascent on the 166.9-km trek through the Pyrenees.

Team Saxo Bank-SunGard's Alberto Contador, 22nd in Tuesday's stage, former world champion Cadel Evans of Team BMC Racing and double Tour of Italy winner Ivan Basso (Team Liquigas) are the top contenders for overall victory in Spain's second biggest stage race.

"Our main objective today was to guard Alberto (Contador) as close as possible and keep him away from crash and small gaps very likely to occur in a dramatic sprint like this and the team did a perfect job," Team Saxo Bank-SunGard sports director Dan Frost commented.

"Now, we'll focus on tomorrow's key stage where the first battle is to be fought. If we haven't got a guy in a break, we will try to put some heavy pressure on the field and tire our opponents before it all breaks loose on the uphill finish," Frost added.

The 2011 Tour of Catalunya finishes on Sunday in Barcelona.

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