February 4/03 6:25 am - Langkawi Stage 5 Story
Posted by Editor on 02/4/03
Tour de Langkawi - Stage 5
This report made possible by Human Kinetics Publishers
A long hot day in the sun with another sprint finish pretty well sums up stage 5 of the Tour de Langkawi. Travelling south along the east coast of Malaysia, the 129 starters began in Kota Bharu and ended 179.1 kilometres later in Kuala Terengganu. Graeme Brown (Ceramiche Panaria) finally managed to take the stage win that had eluded him, after 3 consecutive wins by Mendonca Pagliarini (Lampre). Brown's victory also gave him the green Points Leader jersey.
For Team Canada it was an easy day, since with only one Category 4 climb, there was no chance that anyone could push Roland Green out of the Climber's Jersey. Saturn had a tougher time of it, with multiple attacks in the first 45 kilometres. A break of 3 went clear shortly afterwards, gaining as much as 5:15 by the 115 kilometre mark. Fortunato Baliani (Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave), Jose Manuel Maestre (Colchon Relax) and Charles Guilbert (Marlux-Ville de Charleroi) were the three breakaways, and Baliani became the leader on the road. Baliani is the former holder of the Climber's Jersey, and he took the only KoM, to close the gap slightly on Green (Baliani is now 10 points behind Green)
The long steady tempo, after 3 days at the front, is beginning to sap the energy of the Saturn squad, and Yellow Jersey holder Nathan O'Neill had to go to the front himself in the closing kilometres of the stage to help reel back the frontrunners. However, with 8 kilometres to go the gap was down to 11 seconds and the breakaways sat up. Panaria was taking no chances on the win, with a sea of orange at the front. The team successfully delivered Brown to the front with 300 metres to go, and he did not falter, winning by nearly two bike lengths.
Both Gord Fraser and Pagliarini were boxed in at the end, and could only watch the sprint from behind.
"Roland got me on Graeme's wheel with 1.5 k's to go, but I got swarmed 600m out and was knocked off his wheel. I guess I was a little too anxious today, and should have waited for the second wave to come up.
It's frustrating, because I was really up for it today. I won the Hot Spot against Stuart (O'Grady, Credit Agricole) and Graeme earlier, so the legs are good. I have the speed, I'm just missing the timing and a little bit of luck."
Tomorrow the race continues south along the coast, with a short 136 kilometre run to Cukai.
- Fraser praised the quality of Team Canada, something that Roland Green has also done. "Everyone's eager for me to win a stage; it's a really great team atmosphere. I'm having a really good time."
- Eric Wohlberg deserves an award for the amount of work he is doing on behalf of O'Neill. He is constantly at the front whenever there is a need to chase down a break or set tempo. Yesterday on stage 4, he did a tremendous amount of work after the first climb to bring back the breakaways before the start of the second climb. He blew slightly towards the top of the second climb, but came flying back through the caravan and went straight to the front on the descent to help bring the next break back again.
- The biggest excitment of the day was when our vehicle broke down less then 1 kilometre into the race. The race had disappeared down the road, and we (myself, and photographers Paolo Pellizzari and Marketa Navratilova) were left stuck at the side of the road in Kota Bharu. Forty five minutes later a helpful mechanic finally figured out how to shut of the stupid alarm system off, and we spent the next two hours rocketing along back roads, avoiding cows, goats and chickens as we frantically tried to get back in front of the race. By the way, you will recognize Marketa's work - she is the person who shoots about 70% of the Tour de France photos that say Cor Vos on them...