By Andrew Hood
After sucking on the fumes of Alessandro Petacchi all week, Aussie sprinter Allan Davis (Liberty Seguros) finally got a stage victory in a hard-fought battle in the final day of the 42nd Vuelta a Aragon in Spain.
Petacchi, a winner of two stages in the five-day Aragon race in his return to racing since Milan-San Remo, faded out of contention in the heated final sprint more than a minute back on a gradually climbing finish to Illueca at the end of the 139km stage.
Davis, who finished second twice to Petacchi earlier this week, showed off some strong finishing skills on the deceptively steep finishing straight.
Ruben Plaza (Comunidad Valenciana) came through fourth to protect his 22-second lead to Luis Perez (Cofidis) to seal the overall victory. Plaza won Saturday’s climbing time trial, some 20 seconds ahead of Charlie Wegelius (Liquigas-Bianchi) and nearly 40 seconds ahead of Perez.
42nd Vuelta a Aragon
, Stage 5, Borja to Illueca, 139km
1. Allan Davis (Aus), Liberty Seguros 3h30:20
2. Ricardo Serrano (Spa), Kaiku +0:02
3. Enrico Gasparotto (Ita), Liquigas-Bianchi
4. Ruben Plaza (Spa), Comunidad Valenciana — all same time
5. Jose Luis Carrasco Gamiz (Spa), Illes Balears +0:04
Final overall standings
1. Ruben Plaza (Spa), Comunidad Valenciana 17h03:24
2. Luis Perez (Spa), Cofidis, +0:22
3. Charles Wegelius (GBr), Liquigas-Bianchi + 0:26
4. Vladimir Efimkin (Rus), Barloworld +1:03
5. Javier Pascual Llorente (Spa), Comunidad Valenciana +1:09
Di Luca moves up in ProTour standings
Tom Boonen (Quick Step) retained his ProTour series lead despite not racing in this weekend’s Amstel Gold race. The Belgian won Tour of Flanders and Paris-Roubaix back-to-back, but has opted out of the Ardennes classics to instead to take a short break before rebuilding for a run at the green jersey at the Tour de France.
Amstel Gold winner Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi) jumped to third in the points thanks to his victory in the Vuelta al Pais Vasco earlier this month. George Hincapie (Discovery Channel) and Bobby Julich (CSC) remained tied in fifth with 75 points.
The next ProTour race is Flèche Wallone on Wednesday.ProTour Standings – as of Sunday, April 17, 2005
1. Tom Boonen (B) Quickstep 112 points
2. Alessandro Petacchi (I) Fassa Bortolo 93
3. Danilo Di Luca (I) Liquigas-Bianchi 91
4. Oscar Freire Gomez (Spa) Rabobank 79
5. George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel 75
6. Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC 75
7. Danilo Hondo (G) Gerolsteiner 70
8. Juan Antonio Flecha Giannoni (Spa) Fassa Bortolo 65
9. Davide Rebellin (I) Gerolsteiner 61
10. Thor Hushovd (Nor) Crédit Agricole 55
11. Michael Boogerd (Nl) Rabobank 45
12. Alejandro Valverde Belmonte (Spa) Illes Balears 43
13. Andreas Klier (G) T-Mobile 41
14. Nico Mattan (B) Davitamon-Lotto 40
15. Alberto Contador Velasco (Spa) Liberty Seguros 36
16. Peter Van Petegem (B) Davitamon-Lotto 35
17. Fabrizio Guidi (I) Phonak 35
18. Constantino Zaballa Gutierrez (Spa) Saunier Duval-Prodir 35
19. Erik Zabel (G) T-Mobile 33
20. Jens Voigt (G) Team CSC 32
Valentin tops at Tro Bro Leon
Tristan Valentin (Auber 93) held on to win the Tro Bro Leon race in France on Sunday while Cédric Coutouly (Agritubel) came through second at 30 seconds back. 22nd Tro Bro Leon (FRA 1.1), April 17
1. Tristan Valentin (Fra), Auber 93 5h02:32
2. Cédric Coutouly (Fra), Agritubel +0:30
3. Mikhail Timochine (Rus), Omnibike — s.t.
4. John Gadret (Fra), Jartazi +0:32
5. Charles Guilbert (Fra), Bretagne-Jean Floc’h
Spanish rider improving
Spanish cyclist Efrain Gutierrez was recovering in hospital on Friday after suffering serious injuries following an accident during the Tour of Aragon.
“After seeing him myself I am a little more relaxed because although his condition remains serious he is improving,” team director Antonio Cabello told sports daily MARCA on Friday.
Gutierrez, who rides for the Andalucia-Paul Versan team, was rushed to hospital in Zaragoza on Thursday after hitting a stationary car 14km into the 206-km stage between Alcaniz and Sabiñanigo.
The 24-year-old was reported to have fractured his femur and suffered damage to his liver and spleen as a result of the accident.
Cabello’s assistant Juan Martinez Oliver said he had been reassured about the cyclist’s condition after visiting him in hospital.
“I went in to the intensive care unit and was with him for a short while,” he said. “He was conscious and even asked me what happened in the stage. The doctors told me that if he didn’t start bleeding again he would make good progress.”
— By Reuters