Posted by Editor on 02/6/03
Tour de Langkawi - Stage 7
This report made possible by Human Kinetics Publishers
Yesterday Team Canada had bad luck when Roland Green flatted shortly before the finish, dropping from second to 63rd overall. Today it was the turn of Saturn, when yellow jersey holder Nathan O'Neill was taken down in a crash 50 metres before the 1 kilometre to go sign, losing 48 seconds, and the yellow jersey. O'Neill dropped to 9th, with team mate Tom Danielson moving into the lead, 3 seconds ahead of Eric Wohlberg. Seamus McGrath also went down in the crash, losing 44 seconds and dropping to 85th. Green jersey holder Graeme Brown (Ceramiche Panaria) won his second stage of the race, ahead of Stuart O'Grady (Credit Agricole), with Gord Fraser in 8th.
The 7th stage, from Kuantan to Bentong is the longest at 196 kilometres. As expected, there were numerous attacks until a breakaway of 4 managed to break free. Scott Guyton (Flanders-iTeamNova.com) started the action at the 55 kilometre mark, and was joined by Lars Yitting Bak (Fakta) after 22 kilometres. Erwin Thijs (Palmans-Collstrop) and Johan Dekkers (Marlux-Ville de Charleroi) completed the group at after 92 kilometres of racing. They reached a maximum gap of three and a half minutes before the peloton went to work, reeling them in with 3 kilometres to go.
At this point everyone was set for the sprint finish, and Brown burst to the front 100 metres out, coasting across the line with his arms in the air. However, everyone's attention was more on the clock and the field as it came trickling in - looking for the yellow jersey. Finally O'Neill came across the line in 114th place, blood running from his left elbow.
"Some (amateur) wanker was all over the road, it was stupid. I actually landed on the side of the road, on the grass, but it was full of sharp rocks."
His team mate, and new race leader, mountain biker Tom Danielson, was not happy to take the lead in this fashion. "It definitely wasn't what I wanted, I have more disappointment than happiness. I was looking more towards Genting, and to do something there. I guess it's a good thing that I'm a mountain biker; I'm used to dodging obstacles! The last 5 K's we were just dodging bodies."
Roland Green just missed the crash: "I saw it happen, but got around okay. There was a gap opening up in front, so I stayed on the gas and managed to stay with the front group."
Tomorrow the climbers get a short tuneup for Genting with one Category 3 and two Category 2 climbs, but all anyone is really thinking and talking about right now is Saturday's Genting Highlands.
- Danielson agreed in the post-race press conference, that this is by far his best result on the road, although given the circumstances of his acquiring the jersey, he doesn't feel that he really 'won' the yellow. "I've been thinking about Genting since I got here, and I don't know how I'll do. This guy to my right (Roland Green) has been my idol for a long time, and I know he'll be there. So will the Colombians and Lanfranchi (Ceramiche Panaria)."
- Stage winner Brown was surprised to be on the podium, after suffering stomach problems during the stage. "I had stomach problems - bad cramps - for a hundred kilometres. I went to see the race doctor 3 or 4 times for help. Finally, the only thing I could do was pull off and drop my knickers." That was as graphic as we needed, thank you Graeme...
- Saturn has good news concerning stage 2 crash victim Charles Dionne. After a long trip back to Quebec City (Kuala Lumpur, Los Angeles, Boston, Quebec), he has had surgery for the compound fracture he suffered to his left index finger. It went extremely well, and everything (both the finger and the stitches to his left thigh) are healing well. They say that it now looks like, if everything continues progress the same, Dionne could be back racing by Sea Otter in mid-April.
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