Mar 2, 2012
GUARDINI WINS YET AGAIN, EQUAL’S BROWN’S RECORD
2 March 2012, CHUKAI - Nipping out from his rivals’ wheels with an impressive acceleration, Andrea Guardini blasted to his fourth stage win in the 2012 Tour de Langkawi and equaled a long-standing record.
The Italian Farnese Vini – Selle Italia rider matched the nine career stage wins taken previously by Grame Brown. With two stages remaining in this year’s race, there’s every chance that he can move past that total.
“I took my fourth win today and I am happy with that,” he said after the stage. “Tomorrow I'll try to get one more. But now the strongest train is from UnitedHealthcare."
The latter team is trying to clock up a win in this year’s race and seemed to do things well in the finale today. However Guardini’s devastating burst of power put paid to that goal, and the determined local rider Salleh Harrif (Terengganu Cycling Team) also managed to edge past.
That left the American Jacobe Keough third, ahead of the Iranian Hossein Nateghi (Tabriz Petrochemical Team) plus the rest of the bunch.
“My second place win today is one of the most valuable experiences,” said Harrif. “Last year I was third, this year I am so much better and it's a great beginning for me to increase my performance in my career. If there is a chance I would like to win because I don't want to disappoint the fans in my town.
“The route tomorrow (stage 9) is near to my home and I know all the ins and outs."
The stage was marked by a long distance five-man move. It comprised Chin Lung Huang (RTS Racing Team), Shinichi Fukushima (Terengganu), Wijaya Endura (Indonesia National Team), Abbas Saeiditanha (Azad University) and Hao Liu (Max Success Sports).
The quintet did everything to try to stay clear but the peloton was determined to chase a sprint win and reeled them in.
The race leader remains the Colombian José Serpa (Androni Giocattoli – Venezuela), who holds a thirty seconds advantage over his team-mate Jose Rujano. He also holds the mountains classification in the race and with the last climb being crossed today, must simply finish the race to take that trophy.
In contrast, the battle for the blue points jersey is very much raging. Guardini lost the lead to Valentin Iglinskiy (Astana) yesterday but closed up to within six points of him today. Tomorrow’s and Sunday’s races are expected to come down to sprints and, if the Italian can show the same dominance, Iglinsky will find it hard to hang on.
BREAK TRIES TO FOIL THE SPRINTERS :
Under slightly wet conditions, 119 riders signed on for today’s third-last stage of this year’s Tour de Langkawi. The 100.5 kilometre race from Pekan to Chukai was the shortest road stage of the ten-day 2.HC event, with Friday’s religious day prompting an earlier-than-usual start at 9am plus a curtailed distance.
Several riders were particularly psyched, including those from the Terengganu team which would be racing on home soil, plus Champion System’s Anuar Manan and Adiq Hussainie, both also from the region.
Manan had hoped to shine, but was suffering from a stomach bug and didn’t start at full strength.
There were repeated attacks after the drop of the flag, but nothing stuck until fifteen kilometres into the stage. At that point Chin Lung Huang (RTS Racing Team), Shinichi Fukushima (Terengganu), Wijaya Endura (Indonesia National Team) and Rusli Amir Mustafa (Malaysia) broke clear and began a bid to chase the stage victory.
They were joined almost immediately by Abbas Saeiditanha (Azad University) and Hao Liu (Max Success Sports), but the six man group dropped to five when Mustafa crashed out of the move.
The others continued to battle on and gradually grinded out a decent lead. After 40 kilometres they were one minute clear, then by the time Endra beat Liu and Huang to the top of the category four climb of Kuantan (km 47.7), they had added another twenty seconds onto that.
Just before that point, Liu took the intermediate sprint at kilometre 44.8. He also did likewise at Balok (km 58.9), edging out Huang in the first and Endra in the next.
With the riders in the second half of the stage, the pace of the bunch ramped up, thanks to Guardini’s Farnese Vini – Selle Italia team. This had the predicted effect on the break’s advantage, with the gap dropping to one minute six seconds with 26 kilometres to go, then just 38 seconds four kilometres later. However it increased again up to 50 seconds, after which Endra got dropped.
Fukushima beat Liu to take the final bonus sprint in Cherating (km81.7), after which the break’s advantage tipped the other way and began falling once more.
Sensing danger, Fukushima and Saeiditanha pushed onwards in an attempt to stave off the pursuit behind, but were hauled back inside the final ten kilometres. That paved the way for the big bunch sprint and, as things turned out, Guardini’s fourth win of the year’s race and ninth in total.
LTdL 2012 is organised by the National Sports Council as a mark of continuity to the organisation of the Ministry of Youth and Sports in 2010 and 2011 in collaboration with the Malaysian National Cycling Federation. The race maintains a 2.HC (Hors Classe) status and is recognised and sanctioned by the UCI and UCI Asia Tour.