By Agence France Presse
Oscar Freire (Rabobank) proved fastest among an elite group of sprinters on Wednesday, winning the first stage of Tirreno-Adriatico.
Freire won the 160km stage around Civitavecchia in 4:10:01, just nicking Alessandro Petacchi (Milram) and Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Caisse D’Epargne). The former world champion will wear the leader’s blue jersey in Thursday’s second stage, over 203km from from Civitavecchia to Gubbio.
The opener was marked by a long break by Russian Mikhail Ignatiev (Tinkoff) and Ukrainian Yuriy Krivtsov (Ag2r), who stayed ahead of the field for 110km. The two gained a maximum advantage of nearly eight minutes before being reeled in just 4km from the finish.
Last year’s first-stage winner, Australian Robbie McEwen (Silence-Lotto), made a long break for home but couldn’t hold on and eventually finished eighth. Freire also started his sprint early, and although he faded at the end, he had just enough left in the tank to hold off home favorite Petacchi.
“Oscar managed to start the sprint a few seconds before me, because I was still in the (final) turn, while he had already straightened his bike,” Petacchi said.
“There were only 1280 meters left, and catching Freire is not easy.”
Tirreno-Adriatico: Stage 1
1. Oscar Freire Gomez (Sp), Rabobank, 160km in 4:10:01
2. Alessandro Petacchi (I), Milram, same time
3. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Sp), Caisse D’Epargne, s.t.
4. Erik Zabel (G), Milram, s.t.
5. Baden Cooke (Aus), Barloworld, s.t.
6. Sébastien Chavanel (F), Française des Jeux, s.t.
7. Gerald Ciolek (G), Team High Road, s.t.
8. Robbie McEwen (Aus), Silence-Lotto, s.t.
9. Matti Breschel (Den), Team CSC, s.t.
10. Tiziano Dall’antonia (I), Group Navigare, s.t.
Overall (after 1 stage)
1. Oscar Freire Gomez (Sp), Rabobank, 4:09:51
2. Alessandro Petacchi (I), Milram, at 0:04
3. Jose Joaquin Rojas Gil (Sp), Caisse D’Epargne, at 0:06
4. Mikhail Ignatiev (Rus), Tinkoff Credit Systems, at 0:07
5. Yuriy Krivtsov (Ukr), Ag2r-La Mondiale, at 0:08
6. Markus Fothen (G), Gerolsteiner, at 0:09
7. Erik Zabel (G), Milram, at 0:10
8. Baden Cooke (Aus), Barloworld, s.t.
9. Se?bastien Chavanel (F), Française des Jeux, s.t.
10. Gerald Ciolek (G), Team High Road, s.t.