By Andrew Hood
Alessandro Petacchi picked up where he left off in the Tour de France, sprinting to victory in the opening stage of the 43rd Tour of Holland.
Petacchi won four stages before packing it in at the Tour and returned to racing Tuesday against an elite group of sprinters with the same result. A breakaway was reeled in just 15km from the finish to set up the mass gallop and Petacchi showed he’s a man for all seasons.
Petacchi edged Erik Zabel (Telekom) and Robbie McEwen (Lotto-Domo) to score his 18th win of the season and grab the race leader’s jersey as well. In addition to his four wins at the Tour, Petacchi won six stages at the Giro d’Italia.
The Tour of Holland continues Wednesday with the 190km second stage from Apeldoorn to Nijkerk.
43rd Tour of Holland (UCI 2.1), Stage 1, Middelburg to Rotterdam, 185km
1. Alessandro Petacchi (I), Fassa Bortolo 4 hours, 9 minutes, 41 seconds, 44.432 kph
2. Erik Zabel (G), Telekom
3. Robbie McEwen (Aus), Lotto-Domo
4. Aart Vierhouten (Ned), Lotto-Domo
5. Andrus Aug (Est), De Nardi-Colpack — all same time
Rous grabs Limousin opener
French champion Didier Rous (Boulangere) attacked with 5km to go to take control of the Tour of Limousin in Tuesday’s opening stage.
With defending champion Patrice Halgand (Jean Delatour) and Laurent Brochard (Ag2r) both not starting, Rous took advantage of the situation with a strong move in the late going of the 157km first stage.
There were several attacks throughout the stage, but none stuck until Rous made his winning move. Italian Massimiliano Lelli (Cofidis) and Laurent Lefevre (Jean Delatour) came through for second and third, respectively, at 39 seconds back.
The Limousin tour continues Wednesday with the 189km second stage from Saint Junien to Guéret which features two Category 1 climbs.
36th Tour of Limousin (UCI 2.3), stage 1, Limoges to Saint Junien, 157km
1. Didier Rous (F), Boulangere 3 hours, 45 minutes, 44 seconds, 41.917 kph
2. Massimiliano Lelli (I), Cofidis +0:39
3. Laurent Lefevre (F), Jean Delatour — same time
4. Andy Flickinger (F), Ag2r +1:20
5. Thor Hushovd (Nor), Credit Agricole — same time
Di Luca scores at Tre Valli
Saeco’s Danilo Di Luca won the 83rd Tre Valli Varesine on Tuesday, a 193 kilometer race from Campione d’Italia to Varese in northern Italy’s Lombardy region.
The 27-year-old Italian edged compatriot Andrea Ferrigato of the Alessio team into second place while Gerolsteiner’s Markus Zberg of Switzerland was third.’
Victory for Di Luca brought his five-month winless streak to an end. Di Luca last won a race on March 18th, when he took a stage at Tirreno-Adriatico.
Earlier this month he finished third in San Sebastian’s World Cup Classic in Spain and finished a close second behind Marco Serpellini in the Camaiore Grand Prix race.
Early in Tuesday’s race, Di Luca attacked on the route’s most significant climb, the Ronchi. Two attacks on the climb, however, produced no results and Di Luca found himself fighting out the win on the final sprint.
The Saeco rider launched his winning move 300 meters from the line, and managed to hold off Ferrigato and Zberg.
“I knew it was hard to sprint like that, but I also thought that I could not lose this race after all that my team mates have done to support me,” he said later. “This was not such a good season for me, but better times are coming. After all, there are worse things in life: I dedicate this victory to Angelo, a 14-year-old fan of mine, who recently died.”
The win was Di Luca’s 24th as a professional.83rd Tre Valli Varesine, 193 kilometers
1. Danilo Di Luca (I)4:54:27
2. Andrea Ferrigato (I) s.t.
3. Markus Zberg (Swi) s.t.
4. Oscar Camenzind (Swi) s.t.
5. Luca Mazzanti (I) s.t.
6. Vladimir Douma (UKR) s.t.
7. Ruggero Marzoli (I) s.t.
8. Paolo Lanfranchi (I) s.t.
9. Massimo Giunti (I) s.t.
10. Paolo Valoti (I), all s.t.
Omloop wins Zottegem
Belgian Geert Omloop (Palmans-Collstrop) edged Dutch rider Karsten Kroon (Rabobank) to take the GP Zottegem in Belgium on Tuesday. Omloop won in three hours, 50 seconds and nipped Kroon to claim the victory.
67th GP Zottegem (UCI 1.3), 183km
1. Geert Omloop (B), Palmans-Collstrop 3 hours, 50 minutes
2. Karsten Kroon (Ned), Rabobank — same time
3. Wim Vansevenant (B), Lotto-Domo +0:04
4. Gorik Gardeyn (B), Lotto-Domo +0:31
5. Bjornar Vestol (Nor), fakta — same time
Busy week ahead
There are no less than 14 races in Europe over the next week. Ranging from the Tour of Holland (UCI 2.1, Aug. 19-23) and the GP Ouest France Plouay on Sunday to the more obscure GP Schwarzwald in Germany on Aug. 24 and the “Trittico Lombardia” string of three one-day races in northern Italy, there’s something for everyone.
This year’s Tour of Holland starts in Middelburg and will dip into Germany in a five-day, six-stage race that’s drawing an impressive field.
Americans on the preliminary start list include CSC’s Tyler Hamilton, who raced for the first time since the Tour de France at Sunday’s Championship of Zurich. Others include Postal’s Tony Cruz, Caldirola’s Fred Rodriguez and Italian-American Guido Trenti (Fassa Bortolo).
Stage 1, Aug. 19, Middelburg to Rotterdam, 185km
Stage 2, Aug. 20, Apeldoorn to Nijkerk, 190km
Stage 3, Aug. 21, Coevorden to Denekamp, 86km
Stage 4, Aug. 21, Nordhorn, Germany to Denekamp, ITT, 23km
Stage 5, Aug. 22, Kleve, Germany to Sittard, 195km
Stage 6, Aug. 23, Sittard to Landgaaf, 214km
This trio of one-day races are held in the Lombardy region of Italy, and while they are held individually starting with Tuesday’s 193km Tre Valli Varesine (UCI 1.1), there is a classification for the best rider over all three races. The 199.5km Coppa Agostini (UCI 1.2) is held Wednesday while the 199km Coppa Bernocchi (UCI 1.3) is held Thursday.
CCC Mat Polsat
Hamilton, Phonak story gaining steam
The Swiss-based Phonak team is trying to convince American Tyler Hamilton to leave Team CSC at the end of this season, according to stories printed in French and Swiss newspapers Monday.
The story first broke the during 2003 Tour de France that Phonak was hoping to entice Hamilton away from CSC, the Danish team he joined at the end of the 2001 season.
L’Equipe published a story Monday quoting Phonak’s sport director Jacques Michaud confirming contacts have been made. “He is a rider that fits in well with a team like ours that has an international outlook and is also looking to perform in the major tours,” Michaud was quoted in L’Equipe.
The Swiss tabloid Blick went as far as printing a story saying that Hamilton has already agreed to a contract with Phonak, something team officials were quick to deny. Teams are required to respect a Sept. 1 deadline before riders are free to conduct transfer negotiations.
Phonak is also reportedly interested in signing Spanish rider Joseba Beloki, according to reports in the Spanish daily AS.
Phonak has yet to earn a place in the Tour de France, and missed out on one of the wild-card bids for the 2003 Tour despite a heavy PR campaign. The team is obviously hoping the likes of contenders such as Beloki and Hamilton would ensure their spot in the Tour.
Worlds teams announced
The United States will be among the world’s leading nations with the maximum number of starters for October’s world championships, thanks to its top-10 world ranking-by-nation status released by the UCI on Monday.
The U.S. men’s road team will be able to present 18 riders for the Hamilton world championships (Oct. 7-12) and have 12 starters, putting the team on equal footing with the world’s top teams.
Canada, as the host nation, will have four places but only two starters.
Other nations with 12 starters include: Spain, Italy, Germany, France, Australia, Switzerland, Holland, Belgium and Denmark.
With 14 registered riders and eight starters: Russia, Austria, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Colombia.
With eight registered riders and four starters: Poland, Great Britain, Slovenia, Portugal and the Czech Republic.
With four registered and two starters: Estonia, Norway, Sweden, Lithuania, Latvia, Luxembourg, South Africa, New Zealand, Canada, Hungary, Croatia and Moldova.
With two registered and one starter: Belorussia, Brazil, Ireland and Venezuela.