By Andrew Hood
Fassa Bortolo’s Alessandro Petacchi won his second stage of this year’s Tour of Aragon, easily taking the bunch sprint in Saturday’s 168km fourth stage from La Muela to Borja. Petacchi pushed Spanish rider Angel Edo (Milaneza-MSS) into second place for the third straight day.
iBanesto.com’s Leonardo Piepoli finished safely in the main bunch to retain the overall lead going into Sunday’s finale. The defending champion will only have to worry about strong winds that could cut up the main bunch, because otherwise the final stage presents little challenge to his hold on the lead.
Sunday’s 149km final stage from La Muela to Zaragoza doesn’t hit any rated climbs and will be one more chance for Petacchi to fill out his palamares heading into May’s Giro d’Italia.
Tour of Aragon, Stage 4, La Muela to Borja
1. Alessandro Petacchi (I), Fassa Bortolo, 168 km in 3:52:25
2. Angel Edo (Sp), Milaneza-MSS
3. Fabiano Fontanelli (I), Mercatone Uno
4. Ricardo Serrano (Sp), Labarca2
5. Francisco Gutierrez (Sp), Labarca2
6. David Fernandez (Sp), Relax
7. Jan Svorada (Cze), Lamprel 8. Isidro Nozal (Sp), ONCE
9. Nicola Gavazzi (I), Saeco
10. Antonio Bucciero (I), Saeco – all same timeOverall standings after Stage 4
1. Leonardo Piepoli (I), iBanesto.com, 16:19:04
2. Gilberto Simoni (I), Saeco, at 24 seconds
3.. Manuel Beltran (Sp), Coast, at 26 seconds
4. Jose Jufre (Sp), Relax), at 39 seconds
5. Carlos Garcia (Sp), Kelme, at 48 seconds
6. Fabian Jeker (Swi), Milaneza-MSS, at 55 seconds
7. Juan Carlos Dominguez (Sp), Phonak, at 55 seconds
8. Vladimir Karpets (Rus), iBanesto.com, at 56 seconds
9. Francisco Mancebo (Sp), iBanesto.com, at 58 seconds
10. Marco Velo (I), Fassa Bortolo, at 1:00.
CSC not sending Tafi, Peron and Hamilton to Amstel
Andrea Tafi won’t be starting Sunday’s Amstel Gold race for Team CSC after X-rays this week revealed a small fracture in his sternum. Tafi told team officials he felt sore after finishing fifth in last weekend’s Paris-Roubaix when he went on training rides earlier this week. Tafi said he had problems breathing and doctors confirmed a hairline fracture, suffered most likely when Tafi crashed on the cobbles last weekend. Tafi’s been ordered at least a week off the bike.
Also out Sunday for Team CSC will be Andrea Peron, who’s come down with stomach flu. Tyler Hamilton will not start although he’s listed on the provisional start list. Instead, Hamilton will race at Fleche Wallone on Wednesday, Liege-Bastogne-Liege (April 27) and then head to Tour of Romandie (April 29-May 4).
Ullrich adds Wallone
Jan Ullrich will race in next week’s Fleche Wallone one-day classic as he continues preparations to return to July’s Tour de France, his team manager Rudy Pevenage said Saturday.
Ullrich is currently honing his fitness at the Tour of Aragon as part of his return to cycling after a long absence with injuries and a doping ban. The 1997 Tour champion is feeling so good that Ullrich wants to ride in the difficult one-day race in Belgium.
“He’s going so well at Aragon just now that we decided to add the Fleche Wallone to the schedule,” Pevenage told AFP. “The race comes two days after Tour of Cologne and three days before Liege-Bastogne-Liege.
The 2000 Olympic road champion isn’t expected to finish Aragon, where he sits in 30th place overall at 1:50 behind leader Leonardo Piepoli. Ullrich will start in Monday’s Tour of Cologne, his first race in Germany in 19 months.
Ullrich, who’s been the Tour runner-up four times, served a six-month ban which ended March 23 after he tested positive for amphetamines he claimed were taken in a night club when he was recovering from knee surgery.