KUALA LUMPUR: Anthony Charteau confirmed his status as the new champion of the Tour of Langkawi (LTdL) here yesterday. And the day also belonged to Italian Alberto Loddo, who equalled the record of five stage wins in a single Tour.
Charteau, the Credit Agricole rider who had been challenged for the overall lead (yellow jersey) over the last few days, finally heaved a sigh of relief after yesterday’s 80.4km KL criterium, the 10th and final stage.
“Winning this Tour is the step-up in my career. But I have to point out that at the start, I was not even thinking of winning the title as we were supposed to give support to (Francesco) Bellotti,” said Charteau, who became the first Frenchman to win overall LTdL title.
“Winning here is very important. I will be looking to maintain my form in the ProTour races, including the Tour of Basque and Tour of Catalunya. I hope that we will get an invitation to take part in the Tour de France this year.”
Even though the criterium is regarded as more of a spectacle than an actual classification race, it did not stop Thomas Voeckler (Equipe Bouyges Telecom) from surging ahead. He was joined by Sandy Casar (Francais des Jeux) and Steffen Weigold (Tinkoff Credit Systems).
Koji Fukushima (Nippo-Meitan Hompo) joined the breakaway group while Charteau still maintained his position within the bunch to protect himself from getting in trouble.
With just four laps to go, the leading bunch were eventually joined by the boys from Ceramiche Panaria and Serramenti PVC to set up a sprint finish. Although Voeckler and Nikolai Trusov (Tinkoff) got off to a sprint with just 50m to go to the finish, Loddo came in from the outside to win the race.
“To win a record of five stage victories might seem big but considering the great teamwork which was put in by the team, it is fair,” said Loddo.
Meanwhile, Walter Pedraza of Serramenti PVC said that he was happy to have won the King of the Mountains (red polka dot) jersey.
“The LTdL is more than just a well-organised race. It is a hard and difficult race. So, winning the King of the Mountains title is a great achievement,” said Pedraza.
Ghader Mizbani picked up his second blue jersey for the best Asian riders as his Giant Asia Racing confirmed their status as the best team in Asia as well as in the overall classification.
Giant Asia Racing’s win of the overall title was the first-ever by a team from Asia in the 12-year history of the Tour.