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Last Updated: Friday, 11 July, 2003, 15:06 GMT 16:06 UK
Petacchi storms through
Alessandro Petacchi
The win was Petacchi's fourth in this year's Tour de France
Alessandro Petacchi triumphed in a thrilling sprint finish to the sixth stage of the Tour de France.

The Italian emerged from the peloton on the line after a brave break from Stuart O'Grady and Anthony Geslin fizzled out just one kilometre from the end of the 230km stage.

The Fassa Bortolo rider claimed his fourth stage win out of the six so far, finishing the course in five hours, eight minutes and 35 seconds in blazing heat.

Australian Baden Cooke, riding for FDJeux.com, was second and Fabrizio Guidi, an Italian who rides for Team Bianchi, was third.

Petacchi paid tribute to his team-mates from Fassa Bartolo, saying they helped shield him from the wind so he could stay with the pack for a sprint finish.

"My companions have again done an extraordinary job," he told France-2 television.

"They brought me into a front position in the descent from the hills for the sprint - and I thank them."

Australian O'Grady and Frenchman Geslin had led for nearly 200km after breaking away after 35km.

At one point they opened a lead of 18 minutes but were caught in the streets of Lyon, just 500m from the finish line.

The stage, the second-longest of the Tour, involved a hill climb of medium difficulty that offers a taste of the agony that awaits riders in the Alps.

Colombian rider Victor Hugo Pena retains the overall leader's yellow jersey.

Four-times champion Lance Armstrong finished in the main bunch with Pena, and lies second overall, one second behind the Colombian.





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