This is a reprint of an article I wrote for US Pro Cycling News. I am sharing recap writing duties with the other writers of both the Giro and the Tour of California.
A stage that wasn’t particularly tough ended with a close sprint between Alessandro Petacchi and Francisco Ventoso. Petacchi did not have anything left in his legs to shut down Ventoso, who was able to take the win by a good margin.
So far in this race, the biggest contenders haven’t been making too much noise- but it’s still early in the race and the big mountains have yet to be ridden. Of the favorites, Vincenzo Nibali was the highest placed at the start of this stage, in 6th at 24 seconds behind. The real hills start tomorrow, so the climbers did what they could to save their legs today.
The break of the day was made up of Jussi Veikkanen (Omega Pharma Lotto), Kristof Vandewalle (Quickstep), Yaroslav Popvych (Radioshack), Sacha Modolo (Colnago), Frederik Veunchelen (Vaconsoleil), which was formed within the first 10km. Popvych was highest placed in the GC in 59th, at 5’53”. This group was never allowed more than 5’40”, as the sprinters’ teams were on high alert.
It was a pretty calm stage until there was about 40km left. By this time, Modolo was unable to hang on anymore, and dropped off the back of the leaders. After spending a fair amount of time in purgatory, he was caught by the peloton with 22km to go. Just one kilometer down the road, Veikkanen dropped as well.
It was about this time when the sparks started to fly. Attacks started with Stefano Pirazzi (Colnago) and didn’t stop until the finish line. Attacks were happening everywhere, initiated by everyone and every team. Nothing was able to snap the elastic, and everything was reeled back. Even though the break was doomed at this point, it didn’t stop Vandewalle from attacking out the break. With 7.5km Popvych was caught and Vandewalle was truly alone.
With 2km to go, peloton had Vandewalle in its sights, and quickly swallowed him up. Now the teams started to jostle for position, trying to get something in place for a sprint. Within the last 100 meters, Danilo Di Luca (Katusha) shot off the front in this flat finish, hoping to make it away, but Petacchi and Ventoso were hot on his heels. Ventoso lead the run to the line, with Petacchi right behind him. Petacchi tried to get around Ventoso, but a few pedal strokes after coming around him, his burst to chase down Di Luca caught up to him and he all but sat up, enabling Ventoso to take the win. After the stage, when asked why he seemed to sit up and give the win to Ventoso, Petacchi responded that there were just too many attacks to mark: “Di Luca went very hard and I took Bozic’s wheel. I thought he was the man to beat as he still had teammates up there. I let Ventoso come past initially as I had already made the effort to follow Di Luca, but then I went.” Unfortunately, he found he had nothing left in his legs to give, and quickly sat up.
Top 5 Stage results
- Francisco Ventoso SPA (Movistar)
- Alessandro Petacchi ITA (Lampre-ISD)
- Roberto Ferrari ITA (Androni Giocattoli)
- Danilo Di Luca ITA (Katusha)
- Davide Appollonio ITA (Sky)
- Pieter Weening NED (Rabobank)
- Kanstantsin Sivtsov BLR (HTC-Highroad) at 2 sec
- Marco Pinotti ITA (HTC-Highroad) at 2 sec
- Christophe Le Mevel FRA (Garmin-Cervelo) at 5 sec
- Pablo Lastras SPA (Moviestar) at 22 sec
Photo Graham Watson