Posted by Editor on 02/2/00
Stage 8, the longest stage in the race at 245 kilometres, followed a predictable pattern for such long stage: early attacks, followed finally by a long break that was gobbled up in the final kilometres, and a bunch sprint. Ivan Quaranta (Mobilvetta Design) notched up his second consecutive stage win, with Mercury's Gord Fraser finishing second.
The stage traversed the Malaysian pennisula, from east to west. Lennie Kristensen (Denmark), the Mountain Points leader, broke away with a team mate 1 kilometre before the first of three Category 4 climbs of the day (at kilometre 19) to take additional points and solidify his lead over Julio Alberto Perez (Panaria Gaerne). He and Martin Kryger stayed away after the KoM (King of the Mountain) for 20 kilometres to the next climb, taking those points and then sitting up to wait for the peloton.
After they rejoined the pack, sporadic attacks were tried over the next 60 kilometres, but nothing stuck. It took a lone effort by a rider 21 minutes down on general classification to provide the first serious chance of success. Dutch rider Koos Moerenhout went away at kilometre 115, and was only caught with 5 kilometres remaining in the stage. His solo effort reached a maximum of 9:30, and with 25 kilometres still to go was still nearly 6 minutes.
What eventually doomed his valiant effort was an attack by Canada's Eric Wohlberg at the 210 kilometre mark. Wohlberg was joined by two others - Germano Pierdomenico (Cantina Tollo) and Dam Stig (Denmark). Initially there was no reaction, but when the gap reached 50 seconds, Mercury went to the front. Wohlberg is only 3 minutes down on the lead, so Mercury couldn't afford to let him get too far.
Once the peloton got rolling, they brought Wohlberg back pretty fast (with 12 kilometres left), and kept going to pick up Moerenhout. Things got pretty hairy then, as the race entered the city of Melaka for the finish. As the peloton raced through the twisting streets and multiple turns everyone was waiting for a crash, and it happened with less than 2 kilometres to go.
A centre median split one of the roads, and two McCartney riders took the right hand side, rather than the left with the rest of the field. When they tried to rejoin the field on the left side, they ran out of room and approximately 30 riders went down hard. Bikes were everywhere, with some riders buried completely. Floyd Landis (Mercury), 5th on G.C., was delayed, but the big loser was the early race leader Daniele Contrini (Liquigas), was rushed off to hospital with a suspected broken collarbone. Even though it was outside the 1 kilometre mark, the officials decided to credit all riders with the pack time.
Back at the front, the sprinters were setting up for the finish. Gord Fraser gives his synopsis: "I was back a few metres after the crash, behind the 6 leaders. Graeme Miller (Malaysia Telekom All Stars) actually brought me back up. I looked up and saw the 300 Metres sign and, although I wasn't quite ready, had to go. However, when you're up against someone like Quaranta, you have to be totally prepared. He was faster than me today."
- I asked Fraser whether the pressure of having to defend the Yellow Jersey of team mate Chris Horner, his own Green points Jersey and try to win stages was starting to wear on the team. "I don't have a problem with the pressure, pressure makes me go better. But it is tiring - we are all tired."
Stage 8 - Kuala Rompin to Melaka 245 km
1. Ivan Quaranta (Mobilvetta Design)5:49:12
2. Gord Fraser (Mercury)
3. Sven Teutenberg (Gerolsteiner)
4. Damien Nazon (Team Bonjour)
5. Luca Cei (Panaria Gaerne)
6. Guido Trenti (Cantina Tollo)
7. Graeme Miller (Telekom Malaysia All Stars)
8. Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner)
9. Glenn Magnusson (Farm Frites)
10. Michael Barry (Saturn)
22. Mark Walters (Canada)
34. Peter Wedge (Canada)
54. Sylvain Beauchamp (Canada)
75. Eric Wohlberg (Canada)
80. Dominique Perras (Phonak)
90. Paul Kelly (Canada)
112. Matt Anand (Canada) all s.t.
1. Chris Horner (Mercury) 27:57:50
2. Antonio Cruz (Saturn) at 0:03
3. Walters 0:17
4. Fortunato Baliani (Selle Italia) 0:29
5. Floyd Landis (Mercury) 0:35
6. Trent Klasna (Saturn) 0:40
7. Chris Wherry (Saturn) 0:50
8. Rene Haselbacher (Gerolsteiner) 0:55
9. Lennie Kristensen (Denmark) 0:57
10. Bjornar Vestol (Linda McCartney) 1:08
24. Wohlberg 3:03
26. Kelly 3:28
47. Barry 12:16
48. Perras 14:05
51. Fraser 15:39
62. Wedge 20:51
71. Beauchamp 24:32
95. Anand 35:57
1. Saturn 83:54:22
2. Mercury at 0:41
3. Gerolsteiner 2:59
7. Canada 6:00
1. Fraser 91
2. Haselbacher 61
3. Trenti 53
5. Walters 34
1. Kristensen 52
2. Julio Alberto Perez (Panaria Gaerne) 41
3. Walters 34
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