By Andrew Hood
In almost the same style with which he took the overall victory at lastyear’s edition, U.S. Postal’s Viatcheslav Ekimov won the time trial stageof the Tour of Holland, Thursday, taking the overall lead in the race fromDutch Max van Heeswijk.Ekimov’s win in the fourth stage time trial, 22.2km race agains theclock in Goch, was the third Postal victory in the Tour. Van Heeswijk scoredsprint wins in the first and second stages and retained the leadafter Alessandro Petacchi’s stage 3 sprint win on Thursday morning.Ekimov’s win comes on the heels of his silver-medal ride in the Olympictime trial in Athens last week. The 38-year-old Russian bettered the timeof Rabobank’s Marc Wauters by nine seconds. Postal’s Floyd Landis and DaveZabriskie took third and fourth in the stage.The outcome sets up a tight contest between Postal and Rabobank, motivatedby performing well in the home country of its title sponsor. The two teamsoccupy the top five positions and are all within 14 seconds of each other.The race continues Friday with a 221.9km stage from Dusseldorf, Germany,to Sittard-Geleen in Holland, before finishing Saturday with a 197 km stagefrom Sittard-Geleen to Landgraaf.Tour of Holland – Stage 4
Individual time trial Goch – Goch
1. Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus), U.S. Postal Service,22.2 km in 26:03
2. Marc Wauters (Nl), Rabobank, at 0:09
3. Floyd Landis (USA), U.S. Postal Service,s.t.
4. Dave Zabriskie (USA), U.S. Postal Service,at 0:14
5. Erik Dekker (Nl), Rabobank, at 0:15Overall, after stage 4
1. Ekimov, 11:11:22
2. Wauters, at 0:09
3. Landis, s.t.
4. Dekker, at :12
5. Zabriskie, at 0:14Petacchi scores in the morningItalian sprinter Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) got back to hiswinning ways in the morning stage Thursday at the Tour of Holland. Petacchicrashed out of the Tour de France without a victory, but returned to actionthis month.The 86km morning stage ended in a bunch sprint with Petacchi comingthrough ahead of Lars Michaelsen (CSC) while Brazilian Luciano Pagliarini(Lampre) came through third. Max Van Heeswijk (USPS) retained the overalllead going into the afternoon time trial.“I´m still not at my condition after my long absence from racing,”Petacchi said. “I’m beginning to find the rhythm to be at my best in theVuelta. To win is always good for the morale.”44th ENECO Tour of Holland (NED2.1)
Stage 3, Kleve to Goch, 86km
1. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita), Fassa Bortolo
2. Lars Michaelsen (Den), CSC
3. Luciano Pagliarini (Bra), Lampre
4. Nico Eeckhout (Bel), Lotto-Domo
5. Alexandre Usov (Blr), Phonak – all same timeLiberty signs Paulinho
Sergio Paulinho, the surprise Olympic runner-up in the men´sroad race, has reportedly signed a contract to join Liberty Seguros forthe 2005 season. Paulinho was the only rider strong enough to follow winnerPaolo Bettini when the Italian made his move with two laps to go.Another Portuguese rider and winner of the 2003 Tour of Portugal, NunoRibeiro, is also reportedly signing with the Spanish team led by ManoloSaiz. The signings come on news that Liberty Seguros will become a co-sponsorof the LA Pecol team as part of the team´s plans to be in the ProTour for the 2005 season.Cunego, Di Luca lead Saeco at Vuelta
Giro d’Italia champion Damiano Cunego and Danilo Di Luca will be lookingfor a strong finish to the final part of the season in the Vuelta a Españanext month. They will be backed up by Eddy Mazzoleni, Paolo Fornaciari,Alessandro Spezialetti and Sylvester Szmyd who helped win the pink jerseyat the Giro in May, with Giosuè Bonomi, Juan Fuentes and MariusSabaliauskas making up the rest of the team.For Cunego the race will serve above all as vital final preparationfor the world road race championships in Verona on Oct. 3. Di Luca’s objectivewill be to win important stages while also looking for a place on the finalpodium. After being excluded from the Tour de France in July, Di Luca isvery determined to do well.The team will leave for Spain on Sept. 1 so that they can checkout thecourse of the team time trial that will start the Vuelta.Domina Vacanze sign Murro
Domina Vacanze announced Thursday it has signed Italian pro CristianMurro to a contract fore the remainder of the season. “After learning torace, the chance to race for a team as big as Domina Vacanze motivatesme to the maximum,” Murro said.