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By VeloNews Interactive
Italian Paolo Bettini, who rides for the Mapei team, won the 213km second stage of Tirreno-Adriatico Friday. Deutsche Telekom’s Erik Zabel, who won Thursday’s opening stage, retains the lead of the overall standings after he finished second.
On a largely calm day of racing – due mainly to the flat outline of the stage – the peloton did not split until the latter stages when Bettini and teammate Oscar Freire, the world road race champion, launched an attack.
The two riders were soon reeled in but Bettini anticipated the timing of the peloton’s return perfectly to hold on to his slender lead and cross the finish line 2secs ahead of Zabel.
“Our attack (with Freire) wasn’t really a joint plan, but we decided to give all we could in the final climb before the finish,” said Bettini.
“When I saw the peloton getting closer I decided to go for it but I owe a big thanks to Oscar for all his effort work.”
The third stage of the race on Saturday is a 180km ride from Anagni to Rocca di Cambio.
Postal there, but without George
The U.S. Postal team is taking on Tirreno-Adriatico minus one very important player: George Hincapie. Hincapie withdrew at the last-minute before stage one, because he was suffering from a stomach bug. In fact his withdrawal so near the start that Postal didn’t have time to name a replacement, so they’re riding with seven instead of eight men.
Hincapie announced on his website that he was hit with “some kind of 24 bug, might have been the same thing Lance got. I was pretty much knocked out for 2 days, and while I feel better now, unfortunately I will not be starting at Tirreno – Adriatico.”
Hincapie had been planning to use the race as prep for one of his real early season targets: Milan-San Remo (March 23), so the sudden illness could be quite a setback for him.
Wadeckj’s condition still uncertain
Doctors operated on Polish cyclist Piotr Wadeckj overnight following his bad fall in Thursday’s first stage of the race, which left him with serious head injuries. Wadeckj fell heavily in a chaotic sprint finish to the stage and was immediately transferred by helicopter to hospital where tests revealed early signs of hemorrhaging. Doctors put him into an artificial coma and decided overnight to operate. The next few days will be crucial to his chances of a full recovery.
1. Paolo Bettini (Ita) Mapei 5:58:24;
2. Erik Zabel (Ger) at 0:02;
3. Endrio Leoni (Ita) s.t.;
4. Fabio Sacchi (Ita) s.t.;
5. Mauro Zinetti (Ita) s.t.;
6. Enrico Cassani (Ita) s.t.;
7. Xavier Florencio Cabre (Spa) s.t.;
8. Giuliano Figueras (Ita) s.t.;
9. Massimiliano Gentili (Ita) s.t.;
10. Erik Dekker (Ned) s.t..
12. Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) s.t. 96. Mario Cipollini (Ita) 19
1. Erik Zabel (Ger) Telekom 9:13:55;
2. Paolo Bettini (Ita) at 0:05;
3. Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) at 0:09;
4. Fabio Sacchi (Ita) at 0:10;
5. Guido Trenti (Ita) s.t.;
6. Massimo Strazzer (Ita) s.t.;
7. Danilo Di Luca (Ita) at 0:11;
8. Enrico Cassani (Ita) at 0:12;
9. Mauro Zinetti (Ita) s.t.;
10. Giuliano Figueras (Ita) s.t.