By VeloNews Interactive wire services , Copyright AFP2002
Fassa Bortolo’s Alessandro Petacchi won the opening stage of the Tour of Valencia in Spain on Tuesday. The Italian won a sprint at the end of a 126km stage that finished in Calpe.
Petacchi came out on top in a sprint ahead of Russian Dimitri Konychev in second and Angel Vicioso of Spain in third.
Spaniard Luis Perez tried to slip the peloton during the final fourth category climb 24km from the finish, but he was caught at the foot of the hill.
Petacchi’s Fasso Bortolo teammates, aided by riders from Acqua Sapone, Mapei and Telekom cranked up the pace to carry the specialist sprinters to the line.
Spain’s world road race champion Oscar Freire’s day ended in frustration after he fell, victim of a four-man pile-up at a roundabout 2km from the end.
Another to hit the ground was Italian sprint ace Mario Cipollini, who crashed as he rounded a bend within 300m of the line. Both men appeared to only have injured their pride.
Wednesday’s second stage is an easy 216km ride from Calpe to Castellon that should again play into the hands of the sprinters.
1. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita), Fasso Bortolo 3:10:05s, 2. Dimtri Konyshev (Rus); 3. Angel Vicioso (Sp); 4. Erik Dekker (Nl); 5. Erik Zabel (G); 6. Javier Pascual Rodriguez (Sp); 7. David Clinger (USA); 8. Guido Trenti (USA); 9. Igor Flores (Sp); 10. Fred Rodriguez (USA), all s.t.
Others: 22. Axel Merckx (B), s.t., 47. Alex Zülle (Swi), at 0:20; 48. Richard Virenque (F), s.t.; 122. Mario Cipollini (I), at 0:58; 132. Oscar Freire (Spa), at 1:53