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Last Updated: Monday, 14 May 2007, 17:45 GMT 18:45 UK
Petacchi hits back with stage win
Alessandro Petacchi
Petacchi won six Giro stages in 2003, nine in 2004 and four in 2005
Italy's Alessandro Petacchi won the third stage of the Giro d'Italia on Monday while compatriot Enrico Gasparotto regained the overall lead.

The 33-year-old Petacchi beat Germany's Robert Foerster and Argentine Ariel Richeze in a trademark sprint finish.

The Milram rider covered the 181km route from Barumini to Cagliari in four hours, 22 minutes and 57 seconds.

"It was a very long sprint over cobblestones. It was one of the best sprints of my career," Petacchi said.

The victory was the 20th Giro stage win of his career and a perfect riposte to those who saw his poor finish on Sunday as evidence that he was past it, particularly as he was forced to quit last year's race with a broken knee cap.

We decided this morning that I would not take part in the sprint

Danilo Di Luca
"I said before the Giro that a victory would be like winning my first (ever) stage. I suffered a lot after the injury," he added.

"I had a lot of doubts about whether I would return to my top level."

Gasparotto, who finished eighth in the bunched sprint to the line, took back the leader's pink jersey from his Liquigas team-mate and fellow Italian Danilo Di Luca.

"We decided this morning that I would not take part in the sprint," said Di Luca, who finished out of harm's way back in the peloton.

Several riders were less fortunate as the race saw a late crash for the second straight day. And among those who fell were race favourite Damiano Cunego and Norway's Thor Hushovd.

But both men were able to get up and finish and two-time champion Gilberto Simoni was able to stop just short of the melee.

The Giro transfers to Naples during the first rest day on Tuesday. The three-week race continues on Wednesday with the 153km fourth stage from Salerno to Montevergine di Mercogliano.

Britain's Charlie Wegelius, who also rides for the Liquigas team that took the opening team time-trial, is in sixth place in the overall standings.

  • Italy's Olympic Committee (CONI) has asked the Italian Cycling Federation to provisionally suspend 2006 Giro champion Ivan Basso for admitting involvement in the Spanish doping scandal Operation Puerto.

    CONI's anti-doping prosecutors also asked for Michele Scarponi, another implicated rider, to be suspended.

    Last week, Basso told a CONI hearing that he had given blood samples to the Spanish doctor at the heart of the scandal, Eufemiano Fuentes.

    Basso, who quit his team Discovery at the end of April, said he had intended to cheat but never actually did so, and was guilty only of "attempted doping".

    McEwen pips Bettini to stage win
    13 May 07 |  Cycling
    Liquigas snatch Giro time-trial
    12 May 07 |  Cycling


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