By Andrew Hood
Italian Alessandro Petacchi (Fassa Bortolo) had an easy time winning the would-be Spanish classic Trofeo Luis Puig on Sunday in Valencia. Petacchi easily handled Kelme’s Isaac Galvez to win the 178km race, which fell flat in its hyped showdown among the stars of sprinting, many of whom were MIA.
Rabobank’s Oscar Freire, fresh off two wins at Ruta del Sol last week, fell ill to stomach flu and didn’t start. World champion Mario Cipollini was dropped on the opening climb to make a rather disappointing start to his 2003 season. And Telekom’s Erik Zabel finished more than two minutes off and remains winless so far in Europe this year.
The peloton was cut in the early kilometers of the race after hitting three consecutive climbs, including a Category 2 climb right off the start. Kelme pushed the tempo to cut the lead group, and then Fassa Bortolo and Telekom worked hard to keep the Lion King from rejoining it. Cipollini would eventually roll across the line nearly 30 minutes back.
“It wasn’t a brilliant season debut,” Cipollini admitted. “After we lost contact with the lead group, I decided just to take it easy.”
At 120km, Paternina’s Jose Luis Martinez made a solo attack and held out until the outskirts of Valencia when Kelme, ONCE and iBanesto.com reeled him in. Petacchi made easy work of the Spanish sprinters after Italian/American Guido Trenti sent Petacchi on his way to the line. Kelme’s Alejandro Valverde and Galvez mounted no serious threat, and the Italian won by three bike lengths.
Cipollini, Zabel and most of the others racing at Luis Puig will start the Volta Ciclista Communidad Valenciana (UCI 2.3), which begins Tuesday with a 9km individual time trial.
Trofeo Luis Puig (1.2), Benidorm to Valencia
1. Alessandro Petacchi (I), Fassa Bortolo, 178km in 4:14:29 (40.6 kph)
2. Isaac Galvez (Sp), Kelme, same time
3. Alejandro Valverde (Sp), Kelme, s.t.
4. Ivan Herrero (Sp), Labarca 2, s.t.
5. Inigo Landaluze (Sp), Euskaltel, s.t.
34. David Millar (GB), Cofidis, at 0:09
64. Erik Zabel (G), Telekom, at 2:03
69. Mario Cipollini (I), Domina Vacanze, at 29:09,
100. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Rabobank, s.t.
Kirsipuu repeats at Haribo
Estonian Jaan Kirsipuu (AG2R) repeated at the Classic Haribo on Sunday in Marseilles. Kirsipuu held off the Dane Lars Michaelsen (CSC) in the 203km race from Uzes to Marseilles to score his third win this month in what’s been a fast start to the 2003 season for the veteran sprinter. Max Van Heeswijk, who joined U.S. Postal in the off-season, finished third in the bunch sprint. Kirsipuu also won Classic Haribo in 2000, giving him three wins there in four years.
1. Jaan Kirsipuu (Est), AG2R, 4:55:26, (39.948kph)
2. Lars Michaelsen (Dk), CSC, same time
3. Max Van Heeswijk (Ned), U.S. Postal, s.t.
4. Jean-Patrick Nazon (F), Jean Delatour, s.t.
5. Damien Nazon (F), Brioches La Boulangere, s.t.
Moller seals Algarve, Pena second overall
Portuguese rider Carlos Cardoso of Milaneza-MSS won the final stage of the Tour d’Algarve in southern Portugal on Sunday while teammate Klaus Moller sealed overall victory. The Division-1 Milaneza-MSS team – which rarely races outside of Spain or Portugal — cleaned up in almost all the major categories in the race on its home turf.
The race marked some strong results for the U.S. Postal Service squad. Canadian Michael Barry finished second in the opening stage, and Victor Hugo Pena finished second in Saturday’s time trial and hung on through Sunday’s stage to finish second overall at 15 seconds back.
Final overall standings
1. Klaus Moller (Dk), Milaneza-MSS, 17:19:05
2. Victor Hugo Pena (Col), U.S. Postal, at 0:15
3. Pedro Cardoso (Por), Milaneza-MSS, at 0:34
4. David Bernabeu (Sp), Milaneza-MSS, at 0:38
5. Candido Barbosa (Sp), Pecol, at 0:39
15. Michael Barry (Can), U.S. Postal, at 1:37
34. George Hincapie (USA), U.S. Postal, at 3:42
Schmitz wins Rhodes
Rudi Kemna, a veteran Dutch rider on the Bankgirolotterij team, won the final stage of the Tour of Rhodes on Sunday while compatriot and teammate Bram Schmitz took the overall title. Kemna edged Jan Svorada (Lampre), winner of the first stage, to take the final stage win while Schmitz held off German Sebastian Lang (Gerolsteiner) for the overall title. The race saw two-time U.S. champion Fred Rodriguez (Sidermec) earn his first victory of the season in stage two. Rodriguez also finished second to Jaan Kirsipuu (AG2R) at the GP Costa degli Etruschi (UCI 1.3) on Feb. 2 and will continue to prepare for the upcoming spring classics.