All Koerts, all the time

So far, the Tour de Langkawi could be named the Tour de Jans Koerts, as the yellow jersey holder from Mercury-Viatel won his second stage on Sunday, the sixth day of racing in Malaysia. Koerts' victory came despite hitting the barriers 150 meters from the finish line and getting bopped on the head in the sprint. Sunday's stage from Kluang to Melaka was relatively short at 150km. It was probably also one of Koerts’s last days in the leader’s jersey - after Monday’s rest day there is one more day of relative flat and then two days of massive climbs, something Koerts is the first to admit is

Mercury-Viatel rider scores his second stage win

By Rob Jones, VeloNews Correspondent

The race leader has everyone's attention

The race leader has everyone’s attention

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

So far, the Tour de Langkawi could be named the Tour de Jans Koerts, as the yellow jersey holder from Mercury-Viatel won his second stage on Sunday, the sixth day of racing in Malaysia. Koerts’ victory came despite hitting the barriers 150 meters from the finish line and getting bopped on the head in the sprint.

Sunday’s stage from Kluang to Melaka was relatively short at 150km. It was probably also one of Koerts’s last days in the leader’s jersey – after Monday’s rest day there is one more day of relative flat and then two days of massive climbs, something Koerts is the first to admit is not his forte.

After a transfer by car from Johor Bahru at the southern tip of Malaysia to the start at the city of Kluang, the riders headed west to the coast and then north towards Melaka, a historical city with strong links to the Dutch traders of centuries past. Dutchman Koerts was an appropriate winner.

Tuft, Okazuki and Langella

Tuft, Okazuki and Langella

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

The action began 16km into the stage when two riders went clear – Svein Tuft of Team Canada and Kazuya Okazuki of Japan. They were joined shortly after by Anthony Langella (Credit Agricole), and then began to make time on the only mildly concerned peloton.

The trio gradually crept up to a 1:45 lead, but this was all the leading teams were willing to let them have, bringing the deficit back to a minute and a half, where it stayed until after the final points sprint with approximately 25km remaining. At that point the peloton decided it was time to get serious, and everything was back together with 15km to go.

The pace began to pick up as Mercury, Mapei, Saeco and others went to the front. The teams knew that the finish was difficult (there had been a big crash the year before), with many twists and turns and a cobblestone street for the last 750 meters, so they took it relatively cautiously until they made a sharp left onto the final 500-meter stretch along the waterfront.

“My team was setting the pace for me and I was comfortable”, explained Koerts. “Gord [Fraser] was in front of me and [Enrico] Degano got between us, but I wasn’t worried because I was on his wheel. Then at 150 meters [Degano] went to the right, not on a straight line and I hit the barricades with my pedal. I had to come back up and somebody hit me in the head on my helmet!”

Despite all this, Koerts managed to power through the middle of the pack to easily take the stage. In six days of racing the blonde nine-year veteran pro has two wins, two seconds and has been the only rider to wear the yellow jersey. He also leads the points competition.

Degano received a fine, a 30-second time penalty (which drops him to 12th overall from second), was relegated to the back of the pack, and lost all of his points in the points competition for his actions.

On Tuesday the race will continue north along the west coast, with stage 7 covering 172 kilometers from Melaka to Klang, on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.

Race Note

– the story concerning Ivan Quaranta’s shoulder injury (reported Saturday) turns out to be a little different than originally reported. Quaranta was not forced into the barricades during the sprint; instead there was an altercation after the finish concerning the Italian’s aggressive sprinting (i.e., he shoves his way through). Whether his shoulder was hurt in the scuffle or when he fell we don’t know, but everything was patched up before the start of the stage and everyone started.

Photo Gallery

Results

Stage 6 – Kluang to Melaka 150.40 km

1. Koerts, Jans (Nl) Mercury Viatel 3:25:14
2. Mori, Massimiliano (I) Saeco Macchine Caffe
3. Ruskys, Saulius (Lit) Team Gerolsteiner
4. Bettini, Paolo (I) Mapei – Quick Step
5. Jansen, Harm (Nl) Saturn
6. Nauduzs, Andris (Lat) Selle Italia-Pacific
7. Quaranta, Ivan (I) Alexia Alluminio
8. Miller, Graeme (NZ) Telekom Malaysia
9. Lanfranchi, Paolo (I) Mapei – Quick Step
10. Wrolich, Peter (A) Team Gerolsteiner
11. Pankov, Oleg (Ukr) Collstrop-Palmans
12. Virbickas, Donatas (Lit) Collstrop-Palmans
13. Strazzer, Massimo (I) Mobilvetta Trentini all s.t.
14. Fraser, Gordon (Can) Mercury Viatel, at 0:02
15. Hinault, Sebastien (F) Credit Agricole, at 0:04
16. Joergensen, Rene (Dk) CSC World Online
17. De Meester, Hans (B) Collstrop-Palmans
18. Sunderland, Scott (Aus) Team Fakta
19. Pospyeyev, Kyrylo (Ukr) Cantina Tollo, all s.t.

28. Petersen, Soren (Dk) Saturn
31. Walters, Mark (Can) Canada
32. Wherry, Chris (USA) Mercury Viatel
37. Axelsson, Niklas (S) Mercury Viatel
41. McCormack, Frank (USA) Saturn
43. Vogels, Henk (Aus) Mercury Viatel
49. Klasna, Trent (USA) Saturn
70. Erker, Jacob (Can) Canada
74. Decanio, Matthew (USA) Saturn
76. Horner, Chris (USA) Mercury Viatel
92. Barry, Michael (Can) Saturn
98. Moninger, Scott (USA) Mercury Viatel
109. Van Velzen, Min (Can) Canada
111. Seiniewicz, Greg (Can) Canada
121. Randell, Andrew (Can) Canada
127. Fisher, Christopher (USA) Saturn
134. Lange, Cory (Can) Canada
143. Tuft, Svein (Can) Canada all s.t.

General Classification

1. Koerts, Jans (Nl) Mercury Viatel 25:44:25
2. Bettini, Paolo (I) Mapei – Quick Step 0:34
3. Quaranta, Ivan (I) Alexia Alluminio 0:42
4. Fraser, Gordon (Can) Mercury Viatel 0:44
5. Mori, Massimiliano (I) Saeco Macchine Caffe 0:51
6. Jansen, Harm (Nl) Saturn s.t.
7. Strazzer, Massimo (I) Mobilvetta Trentini 0:53
8. Usov, Alexandre (Blr) Phonak s.t.
9. Miller, Graeme (NZ) Telekom Malaysia 0:56
10. Pankov, Oleg (Ukr) Collstrop-Palmans
11. Lanfranchi, Paolo (I) Mapei – Quick Step all s.t.
12. Degano, Enrico (I) Ceramiche Panaria 0:58
13. Aggiano, Elio (I) Mapei – Quick Step s.t.
14. Rich, Michael (G) Team Gerolsteiner 0:59
15. Rasmussen, Jacob (Dk) CSC World Online 1:01
16. Herve, Pascal (F) Alexia Alluminio
17. Weigold, Steffen (G) Team Gerolsteiner
18. Axelsson, Niklas (S) Mercury Viatel
19. Flecha Giannoni, Juan (Sp) Colchon Relax all s.t.
20. Wrolich, Peter (A) Team Gerolsteiner 1:03

25. Wherry, Chris (USA) Mercury Viatel 1:11
28. Horner, Chris (USA) Mercury Viatel 1:13
32. Walters, Mark (Can) Canada 1:14
35. Klasna, Trent (USA) Saturn
36. Erker, Jacob (Can) Canada
38. Decanio, Matthew (USA) Saturn all s.t.
44. Petersen, Soren (Dk) Saturn 1:17
47. Tuft, Svein (Can) Canada 1:19
48. Moninger, Scott (USA) Mercury Viatel s.t.
50. Vogels, Henk (Aus) Mercury Viatel 1:20
55. Barry, Michael (Can) Saturn 1:22
66. McCormack, Frank (USA) Saturn 1:23
79. Lange, Cory (Can) Canada 1:26
90. Randell, Andrew (Can) Canada 1:35
105. Seiniewicz, Greg (Can) Canada s.t.
124. Van Velzen, Min (Can) Canada 2:59
143. Fisher, Christopher (USA) Saturn 6:51