Petacchi Wins Stage 1 of Paris-Nice; O'Grady Takes Race Lead
Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) has won Stage 1 of Paris-Nice. The Italian speedster bested Robbie McEwen (Lotto) and Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole) to take the rolling, 191-km ride from Auxerre to Paray-le-Monial in 5:13:25. O'Grady took the race lead from prologue winner Nico Mattan (Cofidis).
Shortly after the first bonus sprint at Clamency (39 km), Stephane Auge (Credit Agricole) attacked. The Frenchman's lead maxed out at 9:00, and he led by 4:20 with about 65 km left. Saeco and Lotto took up the chase, however, and reeled in Auge with 43 km remaining.
Jean Delatour riders made several attacks in the closing km. Ludovic Martin jumped into a break that was covered easily. Eddy Seigneur attacked and took the last bonus sprint at 167 km before the peloton overtook him. With 20 km left, Sebastien Joly joined Richard Virenque (Quick Step) and Cedric Vasseur (Cofidis) in a move that forged a 0:30 lead.
Credit Agricole led the chase but needed help from Lotto, Quick Step, Team Fakta, and Fassa Bortolo to make inroads in the break's advantage. The trio led by 0:16 with four km remaining and might have stayed away if Joly had not soloed away from his companions.
The bunch reeled in Joly in the last 700 m. Tom Boonen (Quick Step) began the sprint, but Petacchi came around him to win. McEwen edged out O'Grady for second.
In the overall, O'Grady leads Mattan by 0:01 and Petacchi by the same margin. He will be hard-pressed to remain the race leader after Stage 2. The 182.5-km run from La Clayette to St. Etienne will feature three Category 3, two Category 2, and one Category 1 climbs, with the riders breasting the Category 1 ascent 18 km from the finish. Will O'Grady stay in the lead? Check in on http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!
Interested in first-rate cycling gear? Turn to PerformanceBike.com! PerformanceBike.com has the best in bicycles, cycling wear, and cycling equipment for avid cyclists like you. Click on the PerformanceBike.com link at the http://www.roadcycling.com/ website for the best in cycling equipment!