Petacchi Wins Stage 5 of Tour
Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) has won his third stage of this year's Tour de France.
Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) has won his third stage of this year's Tour de France. Petacchi bested Jaan Kirsipuu (Ag2r) and Baden Cooke (La Francaise des Jeux.com) to win Stage 5, a rolling, 196.5-km ride from Troyes to Nevers, in 4:09:47. Victor Hugo Pena (U.S. Postal Service) remains the overall leader.
The racing began early. At 14 km, fourteen riders, among whom was Roberto Heras (U.S. Postal Service) sallied off of the front. The peloton reeled in most of the escapees, but Nicolas Jalabert (CSC), Frederic Finot and Jens Voigt (both from Credit Agricole), Ludovic Turpin (Ag2r), and Laszlo Bodrogi (Quick Step) stayed away. The bunch kept the break on a short leash, and the fugitives' advantage maxed out at 3:05 about halfway through the stage.
With 25 km remaining and the bunch within as many seconds of the break, Finot attacked his companions. The peloton rode him down five km later. Paolo Bettini (Quick Step), Alexander Vinokourov (Telekom), and Sebastien Hinault (Credit Agricole) attacked with 15 km remaining, but the bunch brought them back quickly. Jerome Pineau (Brioches La Boulangere) had a go, but the peloton collared him with four km left. One km later, Angel Vicioso (ONCE) crashed and broke his left elbow. He will not start Stage 6.
La Francaise des Jeux.com dominated the finish. Petacchi had difficulty finding his leadout men, Nicola Loda and Marco Velo. The pair took him to Erik Zabel, who was fourth wheel. With 300 m left, Petacchi came around Zabel and held on for the win.
In the overall, Pena leads teammates Lance Armstrong and Vyatcheslav Ekimov by 0:01 and 0:05, respectively. With the first Alpine stage taking place on Saturday, expect Stage 6 to be vigorously contested by the no hopers. The 230-km ride from Nevers to Lyon, the longest of this year's Tour, will feature two Category 3 climbs, the second of which is 22 km from the finish. If the peloton breasts the day's last climb together, expect a sprint finish. Who will win it? Petacchi? Kirsipuu? Baden Cooke (La Francaise des Jeux.com)? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!
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