Sun, May 18, 2003 - Page 22 News List

Petacchi increases lead on Giro d'Italia

AP , VEZZANO, ITALY

Italian Alessandro Petacchi celebrates on the podium of the overall leader on Friday after the Giro cyling race 6th stage in Avezzano.

PHOTO: AFP

Race leader Alessandro Petacchi captured his third stage victory in this year's Giro d'Italia and stretched his overall lead by outsprinting Spain's Isaac Galvez and Czech Jan Svorada in Friday's sixth stage of the Italian cycling race.

Petacchi, a 29-year-old of the Fassa Bortolo team, showed an impressive form as he stayed in the leading positions in the final kilometers and again beat the best Giro sprinters following a 222km ride from Maddaloni to Avezzano, in the Abruzzo region.

As the Giro resumed, following a rest day, world champion Mario Cipollini suffered another bad beating by the younger fellow-Italian.

Cipollini, considered Italy's best sprinter, ended sixth in Friday's stage after finishing second twice to Petacchi in the opening leg last Saturday and in the fifth on Wednesday.

Cipollini, of the Domina Vacanze team, gave up the sprint 150m from the finish line when he realized he could not beat Petacchi and Galvez, again missing the chance to equal the 70-year-old record of 41 stage wins at the Giro set by Italian great Alfredo Binda.

"Perhaps I'm too old, maybe it's time for me to retire. Today I was unable to keep the pace of my younger opponents despite the good work of my teammates," the 36-year-old "Super Mario" said.

Petacchi earned a 20-second bonus and the overall leader widened his lead to 1:09 minutes over second-place Stefano Garzelli.

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