Bettini takes over at Langkawi

The mountains have spoken and the Tour de Langkawi has a new leader Paolo Bettini (Mapei-Quick Step). Bettini finished third in the frontgroup of four, behind his teammate Paolo Lanfranchi and Pascal Hervé(Alexia Alluminio), and ahead of American Chris Wherry (Mercury-Viatel). The riders faced 154 kilometers on stage 8 from Kuala Kubu Baru to Tanah Rata, climbing 2000 meters over the final 53 kilometers. There were a few attempts to get away before the climb, but Mapei and Mercury quickly brought them back, so that at the start of the first KoM (King of the Mountain) the peloton was

Long climbs take toll on Koerts

By Rob Jones, VeloNews Correspondent

Wherry (center) finished with the leaders

Wherry (center) finished with the leaders

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

The mountains have spoken and the Tour de Langkawi has a new leader Paolo Bettini (Mapei-Quick Step). Bettini finished third in the frontgroup of four, behind his teammate Paolo Lanfranchi and Pascal Hervé(Alexia Alluminio), and ahead of American Chris Wherry (Mercury-Viatel). The riders faced 154 kilometers on stage 8 from Kuala Kubu Baru to Tanah Rata, climbing 2000 meters over the final 53 kilometers.

There were a few attempts to get away before the climb, but Mapei and Mercury quickly brought them back, so that at the start of the first KoM (King of the Mountain) the peloton was together. Word came down to the race that it was raining further up the climb, and riders first met wet roads, and then intermittent driving rain. Both of these combined to make the twisting road very slippery and caused a number of crashes. The first major casualty was defending champion Chris Horner (Mercury-Viatel), who went down in a crash and finished nearly 16 minutes back.

The pace was high from the beginning of the climb, with numerous attempts to break away. None were ultimately successful, but they did keep the pace high and thinned the ranks of the contenders. Yellow jersey holder Jans Koerts (Mercury Viatel) was part of the main peloton that was dropped 15 kilometers into the climb, when approximately 25 riders got away. A few kilometers later Mapei sent Davide Bramati away to keep the pressure on, and his lead reached a maximum of 49 seconds on the rapidly disintegrating chase group. Bettini and Lanfranchi were in this group for Mapei, Wherry and Niklas Axelsson for Mercury. Of course, Hervé was there, as was Søren Petersen and Matt Decanio for Saturn, and Walter Beneteau for Bonjour.

Bramati was finally brought back with 9 kilometers remaining. After a brief secession of hostilities, Mapei went on the attack again, this time with Bettini as the instigator. Bettini was brought back and then Hervé countered, taking Lanfranchi with him. The pair was chased by down by Bettini, who took Wherry with him, catching the front-runners with 500 meters remaining.

“Hervé attacked 3 or 4 times”, stated Lanfranchi. “I was lucky for the finish, in the last corner I was on the right side and there was no room or time after that for anyone to get by me. Mapei’s goal today was to have at least two in the front and we succeeded.”

The duel between Hervé and Lanfranchi set the stage for a Mapei win.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

They certainly did, taking the stage, the yellow jersey, the climber’s jersey (Lanfranchi) and the overall team classification. Bettini leads his teammate by 18 seconds on GC, with Hervé at 26 seconds and Wherry at 42. Saturn’s Petersen is 8th, 1:08 down. Former leader Koerts drops to 74th, 15:10 off the pace. Koerts does, however, take the green sprint jersey, ahead of Bettini and Ivan Quaranta (Alexia Alluminio).

Tomorrow, expect another upheaval in the standings as the riders tackle the even more difficult Genting Highlands stage. Race leader Bettini is hesitant to predict victory: “Tomorrow we will have to see, because Genting is a much different climb than today. Today suited me very well.”

Race Note:

– Alexandre Usov (Gerolsteiner) who went down the crash yesterday and did not finish the stage was given permission to rejoin the race today. It didn’t do him much good, however, he finished 137th – 19:41 down.

Photo Gallery

Results

Stage 8 Kuala Kubu Baru to Tanah Rata

1. Lanfranchi, Paolo (I) Mapei – Quick Step, 154.40km in 3:51:55
2. Hervé, Pascal (F) Alexia Alluminio
3. Bettini, Paolo (I) Mapei – Quick Step
4. Wherry, Chris (USA) Mercury Viatel all s.t.
5. Tonetti, Gianluca (I) Selle Italia-Pacific 0:04
6. Jenner, Christopher (F) Credit Agricole 0:17
7. Beneteau, Walter (F) Bonjour
8. Nocentini, Rinaldo (I) Mapei – Quick Step
9. Grux, Alexandre (F) AG2R Prevoyance
10. Joergensen, René (Dk) CSC World Online all s.t.
11. Sorensen, Nicki (Dk) CSC World Online 0:20
12. Petersen, Søren (Dk) Saturn
13. Stadelmann, Renè (Swit) Phonak
14. Axelsson, Niklas (S) Mercury Viatel
15. Jones, Timothy (Zim) Mobilvetta Trentini all s.t.
16. Wong, Kam-Po (HK) Telekom Malaysia 0:33
17. Scarselli, Leonardo (I) Selle Italia-Pacific 0:40
18. Decanio, Matthew (USA) Saturn
19. Langella, Anthony (F) Credit Agricole all s.t.
20. Bertoglio, Paolo (I) Ceramiche Panaria 0:43

Others:
48. Moninger, Scott (USA) Mercury Viatel 5:59
49. Erker, Jacob (Can) Canada 6:01
52. Barry, Michael (Can) Saturn 7:25
63. Walters, Mark (Can) Canada 11:06
68. McCormack, Frank (USA) Saturn 11:09
80. Horner, Chris (USA) Mercury Viatel 15:48

87. Koerts, Jans (Nl) Mercury Viatel
94. Tuft, Svein (Can) Canada
95. Van Velzen, Min (Can) Canada
97. Seiniewicz, Greg (Can) Canada all s.t.
103. Klasna, Trent (USA) Saturn 16:55
110. Randell, Andrew (Can) Canada 16:58

113. Vogels, Henk (Aus) Mercury Viatel 19:37
115. Jansen, Harm (Nl) Saturn
116. Lange, Cory (Can) Canada
124. Fraser, Gordon (Can) Mercury Viatel
130. Fisher, Christopher (USA) Saturn all s.t.

GC
1. Bettini, Paolo (I) Mapei – Quick Step 33:49:23
2. Lanfranchi, Paolo (I) Mapei – Quick Step 0:18
3. Hervé, Pascal (F) Alexia Alluminio 0:26
4. Wherry, Chris (USA) Mercury Viatel 0:42
5. Axelsson, Niklas (S) Mercury Viatel 0:52
6. Joergensen, Renè (Dk) CSC World Online 0:55
7. Jenner, Christopher (F) Credit Agricole 1:02
8. Petersen, Søren (Dk) Saturn 1:08
9. Tonetti, Gianluca (I) Selle Italia-Pacific 1:10
10. Sorensen, Nicki (Dk) CSC World Online 1:14
11. Stadelmann, Renè (Swit) Phonak s.t.
12. Jones, Timothy (Zim) Mobilvetta Trentini 1:17
13. Beneteau, Walter (F) Bonjour 1:23
14. Decanio, Matthew (USA) Saturn 1:25
15. Scarselli, Leonardo (I) Selle Italia-Pacific s.t.
16. Wong, Kam-Po (HK) Telekom Malaysia 1:27
17. Bertoglio, Paolo (I) Ceramiche Panaria 1:37
18. Langella, Anthony (F) Credit Agricole 1:38
19. Nocentini, Rinaldo (I) Mapei – Quick Step 1:49
20. Rich, Michael (G) Team Gerolsteiner 1:50

Others:
46. Erker, Jacob (Can) Canada 6:43
47. Moninger, Scott (USA) Mercury Viatel 6:49
52. Barry, Michael (Can) Saturn 8:18
57. Walters, Mark (Can) Canada 11:51
59. McCormack, Frank (USA) Saturn 12:03

74. Koerts, Jans (Nl) Mercury Viatel 15:10
82. Horner, Chris (USA) Mercury Viatel 16:32
84. Tuft, Svein (Can) Canada 16:38
92. Seiniewicz, Greg (Can) Canada 16:54
95. Klasna, Trent (USA) Saturn 17:40
100. Van Velzen, Min (Can) Canada 18:18
103. Randell, Andrew (Can) Canada 19:21
106. Fraser, Gordon (Can) Mercury Viatel 19:52

107. Jansen, Harm (Nl) Saturn 19:57
117. Lange, Cory (Can) Canada 20:34
127. Vogels, Henk (Aus) Mercury Viatel 21:58
139. Fisher, Christopher (USA) Saturn 27:26