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Bettini wins opener at Tirreno-Adriatico

Italy's Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) sprinted to victory in the first stage of the 41st Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday. Bettini, who won the 2004 edition of the race, outsped Germany's Erik Zabel (Milram) and Norway's Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) to take the opener, a 167km stage around the Tivoli region. "Last year I suffered in this race because I'd had a lot of health problems. This year my form is much better, and I've shown it," Bettini said afterward. "I have to thank my teammates because they did a great job helping me on the climb to the finish. "Winning is

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By VeloNews Interactive, and wire reports

Bettini starts off strong in Tirreno-Adriatico

Bettini starts off strong in Tirreno-Adriatico

Photo: AFP

Italy’s Paolo Bettini (Quick Step) sprinted to victory in the first stage of the 41st Tirreno-Adriatico on Wednesday.

Bettini, who won the 2004 edition of the race, outsped Germany’s Erik Zabel (Milram) and Norway’s Thor Hushovd (Crédit Agricole) to take the opener, a 167km stage around the Tivoli region.

“Last year I suffered in this race because I’d had a lot of health problems. This year my form is much better, and I’ve shown it,” Bettini said afterward. “I have to thank my teammates because they did a great job helping me on the climb to the finish.

“Winning is even nicer when everything goes perfect like that.”

Bettini, who once again has ambitions for the overall, says the Stage 5 individual time trial and the Stage 6 climb to San Giacomo will decide the victor. He tapped Gerolsteiner’s Levi Leipheimer and Liquigas’s Stefano Garzelli as the big favorites, but added: “I’ve thrown my hat into the ring, and I’m going to give it a go.”

Thursday’s second stage is a 171km leg between Tivoli and Frascati.

Top 10
1. Paolo Bettini (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, 4:08’55
2. Erik Zabel (G) Team Milram, same time
3. Thor Hushovd Nor) Credit Agricole, s.t.
4. Mikhaylo Khalilov (Ukr) Team LPR, s.t.
5. Davide Rebellin (I) Gerolsteiner, s.t.
6. Stefano Garzelli (I) Liquigas, s.t.
7. Alessandr Ballan (I) Lampre-Fondital, s.t.
8. Luca Mazzanti (I) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, s.t.
9. Riccardo Ricco (I) Saunier Duval-Prodir, s.t.
10. Oscar Freire Gomez (Sp) Rabobank, s.t.

Overall
1. Paolo Bettini (I) Quick Step-Innergetic, 4:08’45
2. Erik Zabel (G) Team Milram, 4:08’49
3. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Credit Agricole, 4:08’51
4. Mikhaylo Khalilov (Ukr) Team LPR, 4:08’55
5. Davide Rebellin (I) Gerolsteiner, s.t.
6. Stefano Garzelli (I) Liquigas, s.t.
7. Alessandr Ballan (I) Lampre-Fondital ,s.t.
8. Luca Mazzanti (I) Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, s.t.
9. Riccardo Ricco (I) Saunier Duval-Prodir, s.t.
10. Oscar Freire Gomez (Sp) Rabobank, s.t.

Complete results