Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) put an end to six months of no wins with a perfectly executed bunch sprint victory in the Tour of Catalunya on Tuesday.
The 2010 Tour de France points jersey winner had no problems seeing off Movistar’s Jose Rojas and RadioShack’s Manuel Cardoso in the slightly uphill finishing straight in Banyoles.
The 37-year-old has had a poor start to 2010, with various illnesses making it impossible for him even to get in a position to win.
On Monday, though, Petacchi’s long awaited return to form came about when he placed second, leading in the bunch behind lone breakaway Gatis Smukulis (HTC-Highroad). And 24 hours later, the Italian veteran was back into his usual winning ways.
By a strange coincidence, Banyoles was the town in Catalunya which saw Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad) take his first win of the 2010 season last March. Just like Cavendish 12 months ago, Petacchi, too, was more than pleased to get the first victory of the year behind him.
“I’ve had a really bad start to the season,” Petacchi said in his usual mournful tone of voice afterwards, “and yesterday I thought I had finally cracked it, but Smukulis stayed away.”
“Today was difficult, there was a tough little climb half-way through the finishing circuit. But I got through that ok, and managed to end up winning.”
Whilst Smukulis continues as race leader, the top favourites are already looking ahead at stage three, by far the most decisive of the entire race, with three first category climbs, a second category climb in Andorra, and the final ascent to the ski station in Pal.
“It’s the only stage where there could be a bit of a battle,” commented top favourite Alberto Contador (Saxo Bank).
“I’ll try and do my best, although there are other riders out that are looking strong, like [Cadel] Evans (BMC), Ivan Basso (Liquigas) and, above all, Michele Scarponi (Lampre).”
The seven-stage, UCI Worldtour-ranked Volta a Catalunya concludes on Sunday, March 27.
Volta a Catalunya 2011, stage two: Santa Coloma de Farnés to Banyoles, 169.3km
1. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-ISD in 4-11-08
2. Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar
3. Manuel Cardoso (Por) Radioshack
4. Samuel Dumoulin (Fra) Cofidis
5. Aitor Galdos (Spa) Caja Rural
6. Giacomo Nizzolo (Ita) Leopard-Trek
7. Michel Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Cervelo
8. Thomas Peterson (USA) Garmin-Cervelo
9. Valentin Iglinsky (Kaz) Astana
10. Carlos Barredo (Spa) Rabobank all same time
46. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Cervelo at same time
89. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at same time
Overall classification after stage two
1. Gatis Smukulis (Lat) HTC-Highroad
2. Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-ISD at 28 secs
3. Jose Rojas (Spa) Movistar
4. Jan Bakelandts (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
5. Thomas Peterson (USA) Garmin-Cervelo
6. Carlos Barredo (Spa) Rabobank
7. Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step
8. Jelle Vanendert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto
9. Alberto Contador (Spa) Saxo Bank-Sungard
10. Bauke Mollema (Ned) Rabobank all same time
19. Daniel Martin (Irl) Garmin-Cervelo at same time
64. Chris Froome (GB) Sky at same time
Peloton on stage two
Levi Leipheimer makes a mid-ride clothing change
Sole Briton Chris Froome
Alessandro Petacchi went one better than the opening stage’s second place
Alessandro Petacchi takes the win on stage two
Gatis Smukulis maintains overall lead