Zabel wins Paris-Tours as Bettini retains World Cup
FRANCE: Germany’s Erik Zabel held off Alessandro Petacchi of Italy in an exciting sprint finish to the Paris-Tours race Sunday as Paolo Bettini retained his World Cup crown with one race remaining.
Australian pair Stuart O’Grady and Baden Cooke took third and fourth respectively behind Zabel and Petacchi.
Bettini of Italy, who won three races this season, finished 11th on this occasion and cannot be caught in the standings with the Tour of Lombardy still to be held. An eight-man breakaway was caught by the peloton about 15 kilometres from the finish and while Bettini tried twice to break away he was swallowed up by the other riders and Petacchi looked set to win again before Zabel rushed for the line.
Bettini admitted the strong wind had been too much for him. “I really tried to win the race in but on my own and with a wind in my face from a kilometre out it was just too difficult,” said Bettini. Zabel, who also won the race in 1994, said he had used Petacchi as the race neared its completion. “I was behind him so perhaps I was more sheltered.”
Many of the riders now go on to Hamilton, Canada, for the world road race championships before returning for the Tour of Lombardy on October 18 which completes the ten-race World Cup season. —AFP