By VeloNews Interactive wire services , Copyright AFP2002
Mario Cipollini added another check in his win column Thursday as the Acqua e Sapone sprint star edged-out Crédit Agricole’s Thor Hushovdat the end of the 176km second stage of the Mediterranean Tour.The rain-soaked stage from Bouc-Bel-Air to Cannet got off to a quickstart when Thierry Loder (AG2R) launched an early attack just 9km fromthe start. The French rider built his advantage to more than three-and-a-halfminutes by the 80km mark. But racing alone in the rain against a pelotondriven by the Fassa Bortolo squad of race leader Michele Bartoli took itstoll and Loder was reeled back in by the 100km mark.With the finish approaching, a series of escapes, beginning with Rabobank’sBram Degroot with 25km to go, were launched, chased and reeled back in,making it clear that the day would be settled in a field sprint. Cipolliniedged out Hushovd, scoring his 13th stage win at the Med Tour.Meanwhile, Bartoli’s teammate Alessandro Petacchi moved into the overall leader’s slot after race officials struggled with a series of tie-breakers to determine who, among a group of seven Fassa Bortolo riders with the exact same times, qualified as race leader. The team won Wednesday’s opening stage, a 36km team time trial from Salon-de-Provence to Berre-l’Etang.
Mediterranean Tour – Stage 2
1. Mario Cipollini (I), Acqua e Sapone, 176 km in 4:24:35 (38.049kph);
2. Thor Hushovd (Nor); 3. Gabriele Balducci (I); 4. Alessandro Petacchi
(I); 5. Jeremy Hunt (GBR); 6. Michele Bartoli (I); 7. Stuart O’Grady (Aus);
8. Guido Trenti (USA); 9. Jose-luis Arrieta (Sp); 10. Eddy Mazzoleni
(I), all s.t.;
Overall, after 2 stages
1. Alessandro Petacchi (I), Fassa Bortolo, in 5:02:45. 2. Michele Bartoli
(I), s.t.; 3. Roberto Petito (I), s.t.; 4. Nicola Loda (I), s.t.;
5 Paolo Tiralongo (I), s.t.; 6. Fabio Baldato (I), s.t.; 7. Sergei Gonchar
(Ukr), s.t.; 8. Thor Hushovd (N), at 0:01;. 9. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), 0:07;
10. Christopher Jenner (F), s.t.