Chicchi beats Boonen in photo finish
A late Boonen breakaway had set up the Italian for the opening stage, but this time the two men battled against each other at the line with Chicchi taking it.
However, the victory came by the finest margin, both cyclists thought they had the win and a photo finish was needed to separate them.
Jacob Keough (United Healthcare) finished third after the 145.3 km trek from Fraga to Juana Koslay in Argentina.
“It was yet another phenomenal day”, Chicchi said.
“I was supposed to help Boonen’s sprint in the end as that was what we had decided during the morning meeting. I started the sprint with (Jimmy) Casper and Tom right on my wheel. About 300 meters from the finish line I looked behind me and I didn’t see Tom anymore. At that point I launched my sprint and only in the last 50 meters I saw Tom near me. We both raised our hands and I stopped thinking about the sprint. It was only after passing the finish line that I understood I had won.
"It’s the first time I win two stages in a row during the same race, it’s a great feeling. Winter training and the serene atmosphere in the team are bringing in great results. It’s a pleasure to race alongside athletes that are such great professionals.”
A long-lasting breakaway involving Antonio Cabrera (Chile), Edwin Avila (Colombia), Mauricio Neisa (Colombia-Comcel) and Emmanuel Guevara (San Luis Somos Todos) built up a lead of 5:30 but they fought in vain as the thundering peloton came stampeding from behind and swallowed them up with 10 kilometers to go.
The sixth edition of the seven-stage race has attracted five ProTour and seven Pro Continental teams with Team Saxo Bank's Alberto Contador heading the line-up.
Three-time Tour de France champion Contador and other GC contenders Vincenzo Nibali (Liquigas-Cannondale) and Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) are all competing and in the top 25 on the overall.
Chicchi leads Juan José Haedo Haedo by 14 second on the overall going into Wednesday's third stage, a 168.2km stage from Estancia Grande to Mirador del Portero which features an eight kilometer long uphill finish.