February 11/99 8:48 am - Stage 9 Tour of Langkawi
Posted by Editor on 02/11/99
A Quiet Day
Things were pretty quiet today...quiet and wet. The 155 kilometre stage was the last flat race before the riders head into the mountains for two gruelling days. The attacks began at 12 kilometres, but for the next 8 kilometres TVM was particularly vigilant at the front bringing them back.
At the 20 kilometre mark rain began to fall, and would continue to fall throughout the day - sometimes torrentially (ocassionally the riders were cycling through water up to their pedals). This indirectly led to the success of a break that formed at 22 kilometres - nobody felt like chasing in the miserable conditions. 10 riders went clear initially, with 4 more bridging up shortly after. The break contained riders from 13 teams, including Mapei, TVM, Acceptcard, Navigare-Gaerne and Saturn, with only Saturn having two riders. Another significant element was that the highest placed member of the break (Kosie Lowbser of South Africa) was still more than 10 minutes down on the race leaders. So, given the circumstances, it was no surprise that the leaders quickly went one minute, then two, and eventually reached a maximum of five and a half minutes before the peleton brought it back to an acceptable four minutes. There were no Canadians in the break - the riders said to me before the stage that they were tired from the day before, and would try to conserve their energy.
So, the race settled down to a predictable, and boring ride through the Malaysian countryside. The only point of excitment were when Mapei riders Fred Rodriguez and Dirk Muller crashed in the pack at 60 kilometres. Rodriguez got up and rejoined the peleton, but Muller was down holding his arm. He would eventually get back on his bike, but abandoned shortly after. The race doctor said after the race that he had been sent to the hospital for x-rays on a possible separated shoulder. This was of note because Muller had been in fourth place overall, only 8 seconds out of the lead. His loss is a big blow to Mapei's plans. It did mean, however, that Canadians Michael Barry (Saturn) and Czeslaw Lukaszewicz (Team Canada) moved up in general classification to 6th and 8th respectively (and in the team standings to 8th).
At the front of the race, the leaders worked together well until 16 kilometres from the end of the stage when Bart Bowen (Saturn) launched an attack. He was joined by Rinaldo Nocentini (Mapei), and the pair quickly went 20 seconds clear. Lowbser tried to bridge up (if Bowen had gained approximately a minute, he would have leapfrogged over the South African rider in the G.C.). However, the chasers brought back Lowbser and his Saturn marker Jimmy Hansen. Bowen and Nocentini continued to dangle out in front roughly 25 seconds up on the chasers until the last kilometre and a half. At this point Bowen and Nocentini began to slow down a bit, jockeying for position. The group behind began to creep up, and eventually split as three riders jumped off the front - Michael Andersson (Acceptcard), Massimo Giunti (Cantina) and Lowbser. The trio closed to within a few metres, but Bowen and Nocentini managed to hold them off, with Nocentini leading out the sprint and taking the stage. Nocentini is a first year pro and was second last year at the world championships in the espoir race There was no change in the top three on G.C., with Morten Sonne (Acceptcard) and Paolo Lanfranchi (Mapei) separated by only 0.4 seconds, and Alessandro Petacchi (Navigare-Gaerne) at 4 seconds.
Tomorrow the real 'fun' starts, with a 197 kilometre stage that has two Category 1 climbs, and one Cat. 2 climb.
Stage 9 - Kuala Terengganu to Kota Bharu, 155 km
1. Rinaldo Nocentini ITA Mapei 3:37:45
2. Bart Bowen USA Saturn s.t.
3. Michael Andersson SWE Acceptcard at 0:04
4. Massimo Giunti ITA Cantina Tollo Alexia
5. Kosie Lowbser RSA South Africa both s.t.
48. Czeslaw Lukaszewicz CAN Team Canada at 4:07
72. Dominique Perras CAN Team Canada
90. Eric Wohlberg CAN Team Canada
91. Michael Barry CAN Saturn
100. Sylvain Beauchamp CAN Team Canada all s.t.
1. Morten Sonne DEN Acceptcard 37:00:26
2. Paolo Lanfranchi ITA Mapei s.t.
3. Alessandro Petacchi ITA Navigare-Gaerne at 0:04
4. Levi Leipheimer USA Saturn 0:09
5. Danny Jonasson DEN Acceptcard 0:27
6. Barry 0:30
8. Lukaszewicz 0:48
35. Perras 13:42
44. Wohlberg 15:28
62. Beauchamp 26:38
1. Saturn 11:03:09
2. Acceptcard at 2:55
3. Mapei 3:16
8. Canada 28:06
Photos from today's stage here.