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2010 Vuelta a España News and Updates: Stage 7

| by Sports Nickel
Stage 7 – Murcia to – 187.1 km (116.0 mi)

Friday/03 September 2010

 

Ten years ago yesterday at the 2000 Vuelta a España, Alessandro Petacchi took his first career grand-tour stage victory on the 168.5km journey from Vinaroz to Port Aventura. The route on which a then-26-year-old Petacchi won that day lies just north along the Mediterranean coast from where today’s stage took place. That journey into Port Aventura, when the Italian beat out compatriot Biagio Conte (who incidentally was later relegated to 113th for cutting off Jans Koerts — a sign that sprinters have always lived on the edge of madness), set off a much longer path that would see Petacchi win 45 stages amongst the three grand tours, including seventeen more in Spain…

Alessandro Petacchi came full circle in his career, commemorating the tenth anniversary of his first Vuelta stage win with a 19th in his career...

… actually, make that eighteen after today. The smart money in the sprints these days usually lands on Mark Cavendish, the brash young British speedster that has taken the sport by storm the past few years. It’s hard to dispute that head-to-head with any rider and given the same advantage he will beat out just about anybody with his pure sprinting power. But tactical experience still counts for something when it comes down to the last few kilometers of a road race, and Columbia burned out its lead-out train for Cavendish far too quickly. In the end the Manxman was all alone, left to his own devices while Petacchi’s Lampre train strung out the field with its accelerations.

Lampre played the game perfectly, leading Cavendish into a no-win situation along the edge of the barriers as he clung for dear life to Petacchi’s wheel. As rider after rider ramped up the pace, it proved too much for anyone else to match. The Italian veteran scored his nineteenth career Vuelta victory a decade and a day after his first. And the way he’s been racing as of late, a second points jersey to go with the one he won at the Tour de France this July is wholly within the realm of possibility. He currently sits in third, just five points off the pace. And watch out for the elder statesman of Italian cycling once more — while the national team’s main hopes likely lie with younger members like 2008 world champion Alessandro Ballan and Katusha’s Filippo Pozzato, Petacchi should be one of manager Paolo Bettini’s final nine to head to Melbourne for the road race as a dangerous wild-card candidate for victory.

But of course while Cavendish now holds the points jersey after crossing the line second behind Petacchi, the young rider still lusts after his first career Vuelta stage victory. He may have twenty combined grand-tour stages to his name between the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, but Cavendish still has yet to win that elusive individual stage (he was part of Columbia’s winning team time trial effort on opening night) on Spanish soil. This marked the third time in six road stages that a field sprint was contested, and it marked the third straight time that Cavendish finished either second or third.

As his mentor, the former great Erik Zabel, might mention, the consistency being exhibited by Cavendish right now is the stuff that points classification titles are made of. But for a kid who yearns for nothing more than the next finish line — and his front tire crossing it first — it is almost an affront that he has yet to claim that stage. All of the next four stages head through the mountains, and his next real chance for a stage win won’t come until Stage 12 next Thursday from Andorra la Vella to Lleida.

Five legitimate opportunities for that stage win remain for Cavendish. Petacchi already has one this year. Tyler Farrar, his American contemporary at Garmin, was the man to pip him for the win on Stage 5. Thor Hushovd won yesterday and Philippe Gilbert has claimed a stage. Hell, even Yauheni Hutarovich has usurped what Cavendish in all likelihood feels is rightfully his. The fact remains though, as was so painfully evident today, quite simple: TACTICS MATTER.

Cavendish can rocket his way to the finish all he wants. But unless he’s prepared to mold himself into a freelance specialist in the sprints a la Australia’s Robbie McEwen (a sad non-starter for his national team when the UCI World Championships hit his home soil next month), the Manx Missile needs to focus on building a better rapport with his lead-out train and figuring out ways to utilize them more smartly. It obviously hurts not working with his usual familiar point man, Mark Renshaw, but a sprinter of Cavendish’s class should be able to work with pretty much anybody and succeed. As Petacchi proved today, it isn’t always about who is the fastest but about who is put into position to get up to speed first

STAGE 7 RESULTS

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1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 4:36:12  
2 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC-Columbia    
3 Juan-Jose Haedo (Arg) Team Saxo Bank    
4 Andreas Stauff (Ger) Quick Step    
5 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Transitions    
6 Denis Galimzyanov (Rus) Team Katusha    
7 Robert Förster (Ger) Team Milram    
8 Sébastien Hinault (Fra) Ag2R-La Mondiale    
9 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo    
10 Wouter Weylandt (Bel) Quick Step    

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION

1 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 27:12:38  
2 Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 0:00:10  
3 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha    
4 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 0:00:12  
5 Peter Velits (Svk) Team HTC-Columbia 0:00:16  
6 Tejay Van Garderen (USA) Team HTC-Columbia 0:00:29  
7 Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 0:00:49  
8 Frank Schleck (Lux) Team Saxo Bank 0:00:50  
9 Ruben Plaza (Spa) Caisse d’Epargne 0:00:54  
10 Ezequiel Mosquera (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 0:00:55  

POINTS CLASSIFICATION

1 Mark Cavendish (GBr) Team HTC-Columbia 56 pts
2 Tyler Farrar (USA) Garmin-Transitions 53  
3 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre-Farnese Vini 51  
4 Philippe Gilbert (Bel) Omega Pharma-Lotto 50  
5 Igor Anton (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 41  
6 Joaquin Rodriguez (Spa) Team Katusha 34  
7 Vincenzo Nibali (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 34  
8 Yauheni Hutarovich (Blr) FDJ 33  
9 Koldo Fernandez De Larrea (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 30  
10 Daniele Bennati (Ita) Liquigas-Doimo 28  

KING OF THE MOUNTAINS

1 Serafin Martinez (Spa) Xacobeo Galicia 13 pts
2 Dario Cataldo (Ita) Quick Step 8  
3 David Moncoutie (Fra) Cofidis, le crédit en ligne 6  
4 Xavier Tondo (Spa) Cervélo Test Team 5  
5 Vladimir Karpets (Rus) Team Katusha 5  
6 Niki Terpstra (Ned) Team Milram 5  
7 Egoï Martinez (Spa) Euskaltel-Euskadi 5  
8 Sergio Carrasco (Spa) Andalucia-Cajasur 5  
9 Jorge Montenegro (Arg) Andalucia-Cajasur 3  
10 Mickael Delage (Fra) Omega Pharma-Lotto 3  

TEAM CLASSIFICATION

1 Caisse D’Epargne 81:11:48  
2 Team Katusha 0:01:05  
3 Omega Pharma – Lotto 0:01:18  
4 Team HTC – Columbia 0:01:48  
5 Euskaltel – Euskadi 0:02:56  
6 Cervelo Test Team 0:04:36  
7 Liquigas – Doimo 0:04:50  
8 AG2R – La Mondiale 0:07:19  
9 Xacobeo Galicia 0:08:15  
10 Lampre – Farese Vini 0:08:32  

2010 Vuelta a España – Stage 7 News and Notes is a post originally from: SportsNickel.com - In Sports We Trust

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