Petacchi sparkles, Cavendish struggles on Tour

Alessandro Petacchi produced a sparkling sprint to grab his second victory of the 2010 Tour on Wednesday in the 153,5-km fourth stage to Reims, the home of champagne.

At the start of the Tour in Rotterdam, sprinter Mark Cavendish was expected to outshine the rest of the field but it is the Italian who has emerged as the strongest finisher in the race so far.

“To win two stages on the Tour de France means a lot, especially at this time in my career,” said Petacchi, also victor of the first stage in Brussels.

“I had nothing to lose so I launched the sprint from far. I stayed close to Cavendish, I marked [Robbie] McEwen and that was it,” Petacchi added.

“My experience of more than 200 sprints made the difference,” he said.

Swiss Fabian Cancellara retained his overall lead at the end of a quiet ride in the sun after two incident-packed days marred by crashes.

The day was also quieter for seven-times champion Lance Armstrong until after the finish when he was booed by a spectator at his team bus and driven away in a car.

“We couldn’t have a third [chaotic stage] in a row, it’s good for everybody,” the American told reporters.

While Cavendish, set up for the final showdown by teammate Mark Renshaw, was unable to move up a gear when the action started, the other stage honours went to New Zealand’s Julian Dean and Norway’s Edvald Boasson Hagen.

Petacchi’s form allowed him to strengthen his position as the most successful active rider on 156 wins, including six Tour stages.

His last laurels on the Tour dated back to 2003 when he won four stages.

While there were bubbles for Petacchi, there was more struggle for Cavendish.

“It’s not so much we who lost it but the others who improved,” said Renshaw.

German Erik Zabel, Team Columbia’s adviser for sprints, said the absence of Australian Adam Hansen, forced out of the Tour with a broken collarbone, was a major factor.

“Adam is an engine and the team picked him up for this speciality in doing the lead out in the last six to three kilometres,” he said.

“The team did a great job. The only thing we missed today was Cav’s sprint legs from last year.”

The Briton, who was the first to hit the canvas in the Brussels stage, has a third chance in Thursday’s 187.5-km fifth stage between Epernay and Montargis.

But it could also be third time lucky for Petacchi. — Reuters


Stay in China, government tells homesick South Africans

As ‘impisoned’ children at epicentre cry to be reunited with their parents, top official says families mustn’t be ungrateful

Cradock Four back to haunt De Klerk

Pressure is mounting on the NPA to charge the former president and others involved in political killings during apartheid

Ramaphosa makes peace with Malema over gender-based violence comments

In his Sona response, the president apologised for the weaponising of gender-based violence, saying the attack on the red beret leader was "uncalled for"

Steenhuisen takes the lead in DA race while Ntuli falters

‘If you want a guarantee buy a toaster. This is politics’

Press Releases

Response to the report of the independent assessors

VUT welcomes the publishing of the report of the independent assessors to investigate concerns of poor governance, leadership, management, corruption and fraud at the university.

NWU student receives international award

Carol-Mari Schulz received the Bachelor of Health Sciences in Occupational Hygiene Top Achiever Award.

Academic programme resumes at all campuses

Lectures, practicals, seminars and tutorials will all resume today as per specific academic timetables.

Strategic social investments are a catalyst for social progress

Barloworld Mbewu enables beneficiaries to move away from dependence on grant funding

We all have a part to play to make South Africa work

Powering societal progress demands partnerships between all stakeholders

So you want to be a social entrepreneur?

Do the research first; it will save money and time later

Social entrepreneurship means business

Enterprises with a cause at their core might be exactly what our economy desperately needs

Looking inwards

Businesses are finding tangible ways to give back – but only because consumers demand it