Monday February 25, 2013
Chicchi edges Guardini to win Stage Four of Le Tour de Langkawi
By SHAMSHUL FITRI
KAPAR: The fluorescent yellow outfit of Vini Fantini shone the brightest as Italian Francesco Chicchi captured Stage Four of the Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) by pipping compatriot Andrea Guardini of Astana and Lithuanian Aidis Kruopis of Orica GreenEdge at the finish line yesterday.
Chicchi crossed the line first in a hectic bunch sprint to complete the 168km stage from Tapah in 3’44:22. It was Vini Fantini’s first stage win in the LTdL. The result, however, did not alter the overall classification, with Wang Meiyin of Hengxiang Cycling still leading the way.
Meiyin is 2:43 ahead of Colombian Julian Arredondo of Team Nippo and 3:29 in front of Australian Nathan Haas of Garmin-Sharp.
The Vini Fantini team were prominent in the past two years of the LTdL, thanks to Guardini, who won a total of 11 stages with the team before moving to Astana.
“Today’s win was very important to the team because it was very hard in the first three days,” said Chicchi, who moved from OmegaPharma-QuickStep after spending two years there.
“We had to observe the peloton in the first two sprint stages (Stage One and Two) and yesterday (Stage Three at Cameron Highlands) we helped put (Yonnatha) Monsalve in a good position for the overall classification.”
Double stage winner Theo Bos of Blanco did not contest the sprint after feeling sick during the stage yesterday, paving the way for teams like Vini Fantini, Astana, Orica GreenEdge and OmegaPharma to lead the bunch.
Japanese Taiji Nishitani (Aisan Racing) and Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar) and Thailand’s Puchong Sai-Udomsin (OCBC Singapore) set off on a three-man breakaway of Asian riders at the 24km mark and they even built up an advantage of 6:20 on the peloton. But the flat stage was well-suited for a sprint finish and the peloton reacted with 30km to go to rein in the trio.
Malaysia’s best finisher in Stage Four was Anuar Manan of Synergy Baku team, who finished in eighth spot.
“My leadout rider had some problems just a few hundred metres to the finish line ... so I was all alone again like in the previous stages,” said the 2010 points competition winner.
“Guardini began his sprint early and then everybody else went ... so I had a lot of catching up to do. There are more stages for sprints later and I will try again.”
With the big mountain stage up Genting Highlands coming up today, China’s Meiyin is hoping to get a good result for the team.
“There are many good teams who haven’t shown their hands yet. If I can, I’ll follow them to the top of Genting for a good finish,” said Meiyin.
The 110.3km Stage Five from Shah Alam today will offer a mountain-top finish in Genting Highlands, a Hors category climb at 1,679m above sea level.
The winner atop Genting, as in the past, would go on to win the overall classification.
Europcar, with Tour de France double mountain stage winner Pierre Rolland on board, are one of the teams with high ambitions in the overall classification fight.
Europcar sports director Andy Flickinger said Rolland was highly motivated to win atop Genting. And Flickinger, who rode with Bouygues Telecom in the LTdL back in 2006, should know how hard the ride up Genting can be.
“He has good legs for tomorrow (today) and it’s an objective to win at Genting. The last five kilometres at Genting will be very difficult but he’ll try,” said Flickinger of Rolland, who is 3:38 behind Meiyin.
Stage 4 results
Tapah-Kapar (168km): 1. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Vini Fantini 3’44:22, 2. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana, 3. Aidis Kruopis (Ltu) Orica GreenEdge, 4. Raymond Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Sharp, 5. Andrew Fenn (Bri) OmegaPharma-QuickStep, 6. Aldo Ilesic (Slo) UnitedHealthcare, 7. Ruslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana, 8. Anuar Manan (Mas) Synergy Baku, 9. Takeaki Ayabe (Jpn) Aisan Racing, 10. Kazuhiro Mori (Jpn) Aisan Racing all same time.
Leading overall standings: 1. Wang Meiyin (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling 14’29:06, 2. Julian Arredondo (Col) Team Nippo 2:43 behind, 3. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp 3:29, 4. Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Orica GreenEdge 3:33, 5. Dennis Van Niekerk (Rsa) MTN Qhubeka 3:35, 6. Chad Beyer (Usa) Champion System, 7. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica GreenEdge, 8. Yonnatha Monsalve (Ven) Vini Fantini, 9. Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) MTN Qhubeka, 10. Fortunato Baliani (Ita) Team Nippo all same time.
Blue jersey: 1. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana 41pts, 2. Wang Meiyin (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling 36, 3. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Vini Fantini 33.
King of the Mountain (red jersey): 1. Wang Meiyin (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling 44pts, 2. Julian Arredondo (Col) Team Nippo 20, 3. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp 16.
Best Asian rider (white jersey): 1. Wang Meiyin (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling 14’29:06, 2. Alexandr Dyachenko (Kaz) Astana 3:38 behind, 3. Andrey Kashechkin (Kaz) Astana all same time.