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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 March, 2004, 18:37 GMT
Petacchi takes first stage
Alessandro Petacchi in action last year
Petacchi held off Zabel and Hondo for the win
Alessandro Petacchi has won the opening stage of Italy's first big stage race of the season - the Tirreno-Adriatico.

The Italian completed the 160km (99.2-mile) circuit around Sabaudia in three hours, 55 minutes, 31 seconds.

He beat the German pair of Erik Zabel and Danilo Hondo in the crowded final sprint, while fellow countryman and rival Mario Cipollini came seventh.

Petacchi also captured the jersey of overall leader in the seven-leg event which crosses the Italian peninsula.

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