Petacchi makes it four
There was some unfinished business in Friday’s long, hot, sixth stage of the Tour de France that pushed closer to the mountains into Lyon, one of the six host cities of the original Tour in 1903.
With the race entering the Alps and the first serious climbs today, Friday’s stage was perhaps the last chance for many of the sprinters in the race, such as Italian super-sprinter Alessandro Petacchi of Fassa Bortolo, to score a stage win or points toward the green points jersey.
Even with that on the collective mind of the peloton, it was Petacchi again first at the finish line, easily taking his fourth stage of the race.
“I had no expectations to win today,” said the Italian, who won easily against Baden Cooke of Fdjeux.com, who came across the line second. “Two and a half kilometers from the finish I told my teammate that I wasn’t going to sprint. But Nicola (Loda) pulled me to the front, and when I saw the finish line I was like a man possessed.”
Petacchi, whose victory pushed him into the green jersey, said this weekend’s climbing stages will determine if he hangs around to challenge for the jersey all the way to Paris.
Earlier in the race, Stuart O’Grady of Credit Agricole and Anthony Geslin of Brioches escaped early and held a gap over two relatively small climbs. The pair made it into the packed streets of downtown Lyon, but fell just short as Fdjeux.com and Vini Caldirola drove home the sprint.
Fdjeux.com’s Christophe Mengin slipped back into the King of the Mountains polka-dot jersey after grabbing points at the day’s first climb and moved back ahead of Jean Delatour’s Frederic Finot, who swiped the jersey from Mengin in Thursday’s long break.