Petacchi Wins Stage 1 of Giro; Pollack Takes Maglia Rosa
Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) has won the first sprint battle of the 2004 Giro. The Italian speedster dusted Olaf Pollack (Gerolsteiner) and Crescenzo D'Amore (Acqua et Sapone) to win Stage 1, a rolling, 143-km run from Genoa to Alba, in 3:41:56. Pollack has claimed the maglia rosa.
The riders took the early part of the stage at a pedestrian pace. At 57 km, however, Marlon Perez (Colombia-Selle Italia) attacked. He banged out a 3:15 lead by 87 km, but the sprinters' teams began to chase. With six km left, the bunch reeled in the break.
Fassa Bortolo, Lotto, Lampre, Domina Vacanze, and Gerolsteiner battled for position at the front. With three km remaining, Fassa Bortolo took over the pacemaking for Petacchi. Robbie McEwen (Lotto) and Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze) fought for his wheel.
With 400 m left, Andrus Aug, Cipollini's leadout man, moved to the front, but Petacchi took his wheel. McEwen moved around Petacchi into the lead and cut off the Italian. Petacchi surged powerfully past the Australian on the right to win easily. The Fassa Bortolo rider dedicated his victory to his former roommate, the late Denis Zanette.
In the overall, Pollack leads Brad McGee (La Francaise des Jeux.com) by 0:02 and Petacchi by 0:20. Stage 2 might change this state of affairs. The 184-km ride from Novi Ligure to Pontremoli features the Passo del Bocco and the Passo del Brattello, the latter of which is just 20 km from the finish. Only strong climbers will be with the lead group at the finish. Will Pollack be among them? Check in at http://www.roadcycling.com/ and find out!
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