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By VeloNews Interactive wire services , Copyright AFP2002
Acqua e Sapone’s Giovanni Lombardi won the third stage of the MediterraneanTour, Friday, sprinting in ahead of a group led by Australian Robbie McEwen(Lotto) and La Française Des Jeux’s Baden Cooke. Alessandro Petacchi(Fassa Bortolo) maintains his hold on the overall lead.Starting in Villeneuve-Loubet, 170 took on the 142km stage to Hyeresriding toward the day’s first climb, the col de l’Esterel at 38km. On thedescent, none other than cycling’s most regular early escapee, Jacky Durand(La Française Des Jeux), joined forces with Philippe Gaumont, buildinga lead of 1:45, by the 65km mark. The two French riders were reabsorbedby the main field, driven by the Fassa Bortolo team of race leader Petacchi,by 102km.Just a few kilometers later, on the descent of the descent du col deGratteloup, five riders, including Michele Bartoli (Fassa Bortolo)and CSC-Tiscali’s Laurent Jalabert , escaped and built a lead ofsome 25 seconds.But with the field now driven by the Acqua e Sapone team of yesterday’sstage winner Mario Cipollini, the advantage was not enough and the escapewas neutralized as the finish neared. The Acqua e Sapone team drovethe train, but it wasn’t their usual finisher who scampered across theline. Escaping from a fast moving group, Lombardi charged and finishedtwo seconds ahead of a hard-charging McEwen.Petacchi continues to hold the overall lead on the strength of the Fassa Bortolo squad’s strong showing in Wednesday’s team time trial.
1. Giovanni Lombardi (I), Acqua e Sapone, 142km 3:21:43; 2. Robbie
McEwen (Aus), Lotto, at 0:02; 3. Baden Cooke (Aus), La Française
Des Jeux; 4. Marco Zanotti (I); 5. Thor Hushovd (Nor); 6. Alessandro Petacchi
(I); 7. Saulius Ruskys (Lit); 8. Zoran Clemencic (Slo); 9. Stuart O’Grady
(Aus); 10. Ludovic Capelle (Bel) all s.t.
Overall, after three stages
1. Alessandro Petacchi (I), Fassa Bortolo, 354km in 8:24:30;
2. Michele Bartoli (I); 3. Nicola Loda (I); 4. Roberto Petito (I); 5. Paolo
Tiralongo (I); 6. Sergei Gontchar (Ukr); 7. Fabio Baldato (I); 8.
Thor Hushovd (Nor), at 0:01; 9. Stuart O’Grady (Aus), at 0:07; 10. Frederic
Beffy (F), at 0:07.