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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 July, 2004, 20:37 GMT 21:37 UK
Petacchi seeking first win
Alessandro Petacchi
Italian sprint king Alessandro Petacchi could make his move in Thursday's fifth stage of the Tour de France.

The largely flat 200.5km course between Amiens and Chartres is well-suited to the Fasso Bortolo rider's strengths.

Petacchi, 30, won a record nine stages in this year's Giro d'Italia but has yet to shine in the 2004 Tour.

Team boss Giancarlo Ferretti said: "To win a sprint everything has to fall into place... but for the moment Petacchi is not up to scratch."

By contrast, Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen, of Lotto, has been on good form, taking Monday's second stage.

AG2R sprinters Jaan Kirsipuu and Jean-Patrick Nazon have also claimed early stage wins, and will be keen to add to their haul.

Having been expected to do well in the first week, Petacchi is finding the going tough.

By this time last year on the Tour de France, he had already bagged three stages on the way to four in total.

Petacchi has been close, finishing eighth twice in the first two days of racing.

However, on Tuesday the Italian missed the sprint altogether, coming home with a bunch of riders five seconds adrift of Nazon.

On Thursday, Petacchi may decide to push for a win and appease his team's management.

Thursday's fifth stage:

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