Fresh off of his three-stage win streak at the Tour of Murcia, Fassa Bortolo’s Alessandro Petacchi grabbed the overall lead at Paris-Nice after winning a field sprint at the end of stage one, a 176km ride from Blois to Saint-Amand-Montrond on Monday.
Petacchi took the leader’s jersey from Hungary’s Laszlo Bodrogi, who won Sunday’s prologue.
The 28-year-old took the honors in the 176km stage, a slight climb, after holding off the challenge of Estonia’s Jaan Kirsipuu and Australian Robbie McEwen.
The stage win was Petacchi’s fifth of the season following previous successes in the Tour of the Mediterranean and Tour of Valencia.
Petacchi took victory on Monday in a time of 4hours 43min 32sec and now leads the overall standings from Bodrogi by 2 seconds with Frenchman Didier Rous four seconds back in third spot.
Australia’s Robbie McEwen, Javier Pascual of Spain and Nico Mattan of Belgium make up the top six.
“It was a great day for me and the team who helped me before the sprint. I like these types of sprints and I am doing my best,” said Petacchi.
“I am taking part here to prepare for the Milan-San Remo race which has always been my dream since I became a cyclist.”
1. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 4:43:32;
2. Jaan Kirsipuu (Est);
3. Robbie McEwen (Aus);
4. Max van Heeswijk (Ned);
5. Baden Cooke (Aus);
6. Tom Steels (Bel);
7. Thor Hushovd (Nor);
8. Nico Mattan (Bel);
9. Samuel Sanchez (Spa);
10. Jo Planckaert (Bel);
11. Paolo Bossoni (Ita);
12. Angelo Furlan (Ita) ;
13. Fabrizio Guidi (Ita);
14. Andreas Kloeden (Ger);
15. Alexandre Botcharov (Rus);
16. Laurent Brochard (Fra);
17. Bingen Fernandez (Spa);
18. Angel Vicioso (Spa);
19. Matthias Bushofer (Aut);
20. Chris Peers (Bel) all s.t.
27. Laurent Jalabert (Fra);
38. Jens Voigt (Ger);
40. Ivan Basso(Ita);
46. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz);
50. Richard Virenque (Fra);
54. Bobby Julich (USA);
108. Alex Zuelle (Swi), all s.t.
1. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Fassa Bortolo 4:50:24;
2. Laszlo Bodrogi (Hun) at 0:02;
3. Didier Rous (Fra) at 0:04;
4. Robbie McEwen (Aus) at 0:07;
5. Javier Pascual (Spa) at 0:08;
6. Nico Mattan (Bel) at 0:08;
7. Juan Carlos Dominguez (Spa) at 0:08;
8. Andreas Kloeden (Ger) at 0:08;
9. Alberto Martinez (Spa) at 0:08;
10. Dario Frigo (Ita) at 0:09;
11. Nicolas Jalabert (Fra) at 0:09;
12. Alex Zuelle (Swi) at 0:09;
13. Mikel Pradera (Spa) at 0:09;
14. Inigo Cuesta (Spa) at 0:10;
15. Laurent Jalabert (Fra) at 0:10;
16. Max van Heeswijk (Ned) at 0:10;
17. Angel Vicioso (Spa) at 0:13;
18. Laurent Brochard (Fra) at 0:14;
19. Peter Luttenberger (Aut) at 0:14;
20. Alexandre Vinokourov (Kaz) at 0:14.
22. Jens Voigt (Ger) at 0:15;
23. Peter Van Petegem (Bel) at 0:15;
24. Bobby Julich (USA) at 0:15;
35. Baden Cooke (Aus) at 0:19;
57. Ivan Basso (Ita) at 0:24;
76. Richard Virenque (Fra) at 0:27