SEREMBAN: Frenchman Anthony Charteau looks certain to lift the Le Tour de Langkawi 2007 individual title this year after a tactical ride from Putrajaya to Seremban yesterday.
The leader kept up with his rivals through the several climbs at Bukit Tangga, Lenggeng and Bukit Mantin in Stage Nine to cling tighter to his yellow jersey.
He has a more than one-minute lead over his nearest challengers and with only the KL Criterium to go today, they will find it near-impossible to take the lead away from him.
Pavel Brutt from the Tinkoff Credit Systems team took the 173.1km stage to hand the newly-formed side their first ever stage victory.
Brutt’s victory only played into Charteau’s hands.
“We have a team of good riders today and even though I was in the front pack, the stage was actually a lot harder than it looked,” he said.
“I have a good lead and although some riders have complained about the heat, I love it so I felt really good in the last several kilometres.
“The tactic was to keep the boys from Serramenti close, so we were not too bothered when the Tinkoff rider took off. It should not be a problem to retain my lead tomorrow as I think that the Kuala Lumpur Criterium is more for spectacle than an actual race.”
Stage Nine did provide some semblance of a challenge to the riders after the punishing climb up Genting a day earlier with more than 10 riders making the early break. These included Brutt, Thomas Voeckler (Equipe Bouyges Telecom), Tiann Kannemeyer ( South Africa), Park Sung-baek ( South Korea ) and two other new Russian riders Serguie Klimov (Tinkoff) and Sergey Kolesnikov (Unibet.com).
After Jeram Toi, the breakaway group was left with just three riders – Brutt, Kolesnikov and David George of South Africa – as the others dropped off to rejoin the peloton.
The yellow jersey group closed in on the leaders as Charteau kept alive his dream of being the first Le Tour de France rider to win Le Tour de Langkawi as well since the Mapei years (in 2001).
Brutt, too, was pleased.
“I’m very happy to give Tinkoff their first win – I sprinted 800m from the line,” he said.
“In terms of difficulty of between one and 10, I would give the race today a nine.”
Walter Pedraza (Serramenti) is still in the red polka dot shirt for the King of the Mountains title, Ghader Mizbani (Giant AIS) stays in blue for the best Asian rider and Alberto Loddo (Serramenti) in the green for the sprints classification heading into the final race.
“I will try to win the Kuala Lumpur Criterium tomorrow,” said Loddo.
“But even if I don’t, I will be happy with the green jersey.”
ResultsStage Nine (173km): 1. Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff Credit Systems) 4’07:08; 2. Sergey Kolesnikov (Unibet.com) 4’07:11; 3. Pierre Drancourt (Bouygues Telecom) 4’07:11; 4. David George (S. Africa) 4’07:11; 5. Luis Pasamontes (Unibet.com) 4’07:13; 6. Jose Rujano (Unibet.com) 4’07:18; 7. Daryl Impey (S. Africa) 4’07:42; 8. Gene Bates (SouthAustralia.com) 4’07:42; 9. Salvatore Commesso (Tinkoff Credit Systems) 4’07:42; 10. Park Sung-baek (S. Korea) 4’07:42.
Selected (Malaysians): 41. Ng Yong Li (Vitoria ASC) 4’12:07; 44. Loh Sea Keong (Discovery Channel Marco Polo) s.t.; 73. Saiful Anuar Abd Aziz (MNCF Development Team) 4’17:08; 78. Mohd Faris Abd Razak (MNCF Development Team) 4’17:08 s.t.; 84. Md Nor Rizuan Zainal (LeTua) 4’17:08 s.t.
Overall standings: 1. Anthony Charteau (Credit Agricole) 30’50:19; 2. Jose Serpa (Selle Italia Serramenti Diquigiovanni) Time deficit 1:02; 3. Walter Pedraza (Selle Italia Serramenti Diquigiovanni) +1:34; 4. David George (South Africa) +3:06; 5. Jay Crawford (Giant Asia Racing Team) +4:05; 6. Ghader Mizbani (Giant Asia Racing Team) +4:14; 7. Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff Credit Systems) +4:21; 8. Yokihiro Doi (Skil Shimano) +4:43; 9. Luis Pasamontes (Uninet.com) +4:53; 10. Hossein Askari (Giant Asia Racing Team) +4:54.
Team overall: 1. Giant Asia Racing Team 92’44:13; 2. Unibet.com +4:30; 3. Credit Agricole +9:25; 4. Tinkoff Credit Systems +9:57; 5. Slipstream +11:59; 6. SouthAustralia.com +15:32; 7. Selle Italia Serramenti Diquigiovanni +15:32; 8. South Africa +23:29; 9. Skil Shimano +26:17; 10. Bouygues Telecom +26:45.
Asian Individual Overall: 1. Ghader Mizbani (Giant Asia Racing Team) 30’54:33; 2. Yokihiro Doi (Skil Shimano) Time deficit 0:29; 3. Hossein Askari (Giant Asia Racing Team) +0:40; 4. Tonton Susanto (LeTua) +6:38; 5. Park Sung-baek (S. Korea) +7:23; 6. Shinichi Fukushima (Nippo-Meitan) +9:37; 7. Saeidtanha Abbas (Azad University Team) +9:41; 8. Yevgeniv Yakovlev (Polygon Sweetnice) +9:49.
Asian Teams Overall: 1. Giant Asia Racing Team 93’03:43; 2. Azad University Team Time deficit 16:26; 3. Nippo-Meitan +19:17; 4. Korea +23:40; 5. LeTua +53:15; 6. MNCF Development Team +1’12:12; 7. Malaysia +1’44:09.