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Monday March 5, 2012
Stories by SHAMSHUL FITRI
KUALA TERENGGANU: Andrea Guardini stole the limelight in the Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) by winning his sixth stage here yesterday, but it was Jose Serpa who bagged the overall title.
Serpa, who won the Tour in 2009, took the overall lead after Stage Six atop Genting Highlands and maintained the 30-second lead over team-mate Jose Rujano until the end.
The Colombian was initially not supposed to race in the LTdL as he was scheduled to compete in Italy. But the cancellation of the race there meant Androni Giocattoli director Gianni Savio would have another strong climber to support designated-leader Rujano up Genting. As Rujano buckled under attack from third-placed Victor Nino Corredor (Azad University Cross) up Genting, Serpa switched role from helper to leader and made sure Androni’s objectives were met.
“This is a very special win for me as I clinched my first stage as a professional here back in 2006 and then won the overall title in 2009,” said Serpa.
“I thank my team-mates for their great job protecting my lead in every stage and I’m very happy with the outcome.”
Serpa, who will have the Giro d’Italia in May as his primary objective this year, will compete in the Settimana Coppie Bartali (March 20) as his build up for the Grand Tour in Italy.
“I hope to win it as a preparation for the Giro. But my main objective is to do well in the Giro and I hope to be in good condition ahead of it,” said Serpa, who also won the mountains classification.
In the 114.8km stage from Tasik Kenyir to Kuala Terengganu yesterday, Guardini showed his class to make him the undisputed sprinter in LTdL history with 11 stage wins. Last year, he won five stages.
Guardini benefited from a perfect lead-out by his team-mates to beat Jacobe Keough (United Healthcare) and Sonny Colbrelli (Colnago CSF Inox) to the line in 2’36:42.
Mohd Harrif Salleh (Terengganu Pro-Asia) finished fourth.
A breakaway of four riders formed after the 7km mark in the race involving Loh Sea Keong (OCBC Singapore), Mohd Rauf Nur Misbah (Malaysia), Shinichi Fukushima (Terengganu) and Seo Joon-yong (Seoul Cycling).
The peloton, led by Farnese Vini, gave the quartet a 2:05 advantage going into Kuala Terengganu, where they had to complete a loop around the town for five times before completing the race.
Astana then surged to the front of the pack, catching the breakaway group and was soon leading the field.
Alexandre Vinokourov was the leader followed by team-mate Dmitriy Gruzdev, Roman van Uden (New Zealand) and Joon-yong.
Vinokourov then powered through to leave the three riders behind but it was a futile move as the peloton, led by Farnese and Europcar, chased and caught him.
“It was a very difficult race today because we knew that we were the only team that really wanted to finish it with a bunch sprint, and we had to work hard for it,” said Guardini who was also crowned as the points classification winner.
“When Vinokourov attacked, we were a bit worried but by then most of other teams were willing to help prevent him from winning,” added Guardini.
10th and Final Stage (114.8km): 1. Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini) 2’36:42, 2. Jacobe Keough (United Healthcare), 3. Sonny Colbrelli (Colnago CSF Inox), 4. Mohd Harrif Salleh (Terengganu Pro-Asia), 5. Raymond Kreder (Garmin-Barracuda), 6. Christian Delle Stelle (Colnago CSF Inox), 7. Hossein Nateghi (Tabriz Petrochemical), 8. Robert Forster (United Healthcare), 9. Matteo Pelucchi (Europcar), 10. Valentin Iglinskiy (Astana) all same time.
General classification: 1. Jose Serpa (Androni Giocattoli) 32’55:31, 2. Jose Rujano (Androni Giocattoli) 30 seconds behind, 3. Victor Nino Corredor (Azad University Cross) 1:03, 4. Alexandr Dyachenko (Astana) 2:20, 5. Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giocattoli) 3:50, 6. Stefano Locatelli (Colnago CSF Inox) 4:15, 7. Ghader Mizbani (Tabriz Petrochemical) 4:23, 8. Andrey Zeits (Astana) 4:28, 9. Dennis van Niekerk (MTN Qhubeka) 4:33, 10. Joseph Cooper (New Zealand) 4:44.
Points classification: 1. Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini) 94 pts, 2. Valentin Iglinskiy (Astana) 85, 3. Jacobe Keough (United Healthcare) 79.
Mountains classification: 1. Jose Serpa (Androni Giocattoli) 27, 2. Matteo Rabottini (Farnese Vini) 24, 3. Jose Rujano (Androni Giocattoli) 24.
Best Asian rider: 1. Alexandr Dyachenko (Kaz) Astana 32’57:51, 2. Ghader Mizbani (Iri) Tabriz Petrochemical 2:03 behind, 3. Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana 2:08, 4. Mohd Adiq Husainie Othman (Mas) Champion System 4:29, 5. Mohd Saufi Mat Senan (Mas) Terengganu Pro-Asia 5:05.
Best overall team: 1. Androni Giocattoli 98’50:34, 2. Astana 12:03 behind, 3. MTN Qhubeka 13:36.
Best Asian team: 1. Astana 99’02:37, 2. Tabriz Petrochemical 6:05 behind, 3. Terengganu Pro-Asia 16:52.
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