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Updated: July 5, 2010 03:01 IST

Petacchi wins first stage

AFP
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GREAT START: Alessandro Petacchi of Italy crosses the finish line to win the first stage of the Tour de France.
AP GREAT START: Alessandro Petacchi of Italy crosses the finish line to win the first stage of the Tour de France.

Fabian Cancellara of Switzerland retained the race leader's yellow jersey after the crash-marred Tour de France first stage won in spectacular fashion by Alessandro Petacchi of Lampre on Sunday.

Italian sprinter Petacchi, making his first appearance at the race in more than five years, upset predictions when he finished a reduced bunch sprint ahead of Australian Mark Renshaw and Norwegian Thor Hushovd.

Numerous crashes occurred in the closing kilometres of the 223.5km ride from Rotterdam to Brussels, leaving some of the top favourites for stage victory out of the running.

After the carnage, Petacchi produced a thrill when he tried to shake his followers by pulling sharply to the left side of the road.

Seconds later he came over the finish line in victory, and later refused to accept it was devalued by the relative lack of quality in the final bunch.

“It wasn't unexpected for me. I'm here to sprint and win stages, and to do my best and that's what I did,” said the Italian, who last appeared on the race in 2004.

Cancellara took the yellow jersey on Saturday when he won the race's opening prologue over 8.9km in Rotterdam.

Keywords: Tour de France

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