Paolo Bettini (Mapei-Quick Step) became the fourth rider to win two stages in the 2001 Tour de Langkawi, consolidating his lead in the green jersey points competition, while his team mate Paolo Lanfranchi easily finished in the pack, protecting his yellow jersey.
Liquigas’s Davide Rebellin (Liquigas), winner of the 2000 Tour Méditerranéen, took over the lead of this year’s edition from Ivan Basso (Fassa Bartolo) after Basso suffered a crash in the first of Saturday’s two stages, a 108km race from Aigues Mortes to Beziers. The day’s stage wins were still the property of the peloton’s top sprinters as Gabriel Balducci (Tacconi) and Jaan Kirsipuu (AG2R) won stages four and five respectively.Rebellin moved from second overall after Basso’s crash and now holds an eight second advantage over David Moncoutie and 23 seconds over Laurent Brochard.Basso was the
Paolo Lanfranchi (Mapei-Quick Step) has weathered the last serious threat to winning his second Tour de Langkawi by surviving the stage 10 time trial, while his team mate Paolo Bettini has moved into second and Chris Wherry salvaged some Mercury-Viatel pride with a superb ride that jumped him up two places into third overall. Australian Nathan O'Neill (Ceramiche Panaria) took the stage to give his team their third victory of the Tour.
La Française des Jeux’s sprinter Jimmy Casper took the third stage of the Tour of the Mediterranean, a 127km race between Gréasque and Salon-de-Provence, on Friday. Casper outsprinted a tough field of top sprinters, beating Czech Jan Svorada of Lampre and AG2R’s Jaan Kirsipuu, the Estonian who lead the opening week of the 1999 Tour de France.
Ivan Basso (Fassa Bortolo) maintained his hold on the overall standings with a four-second advantage over Liquigas’s Davide Rebellin.
American David Clinger finished 8th in Friday’s bunch sprint, while Bobby Julich (Credit Agricole) holds on to
Australian Robbie McEwen (Domo) took the second stage of the 28th Mediterranean Tour on Thursday, finishing the 139km stage between La Garde and La Seyne by outsprinting Estonian Jaan Kirsipuu and France’s Damien Nazon. Fassa Bortolo’s Ivan Basso maintains his lead over Liquigas’s Davide Rebellin in the overall standings.
The finishing sprint was marked by serious crash in which Basso’s teammate, Alessandro Pettacchi suffered a broken collarbone.
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
Ivan Quaranta (Alexia Alluminio) finally got on the winner's podium, but unfortunately a large crash marred the end of stage 7 at the Tour de Langkawi. Jans Koerts (Mercury Viatel) finished second and continues to hold the yellow jersey after the last stage before the mountains.
The 172-kilometer stage from Melaka to Klang (on the outskirts of KualaLumpur) had a profile like a saw blade. None of the rollers wasparticularly long, but with over 1100 kilometers on their legs, and twomajor climbing stages to come, no one was in the mood for a fast run.
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
Belgian cyclist Nico Eeckhout (Lotto) won the 31st edition of the Etoile de Bessèges by the slimmest of margins on Sunday after a final stage raced on a circuit around Molieres-sur-Ceze and Bessèges.
France's Florent Brard (Festina) took the stage victory, and his compatriot Damien Nazon (Bonjour), who won the third and fourth stages, came in only 21 seconds behind his Belgian adversary from the Lotto team.
However it was too little too late as Eeckhout put the finishing touches to a campaign which he got off to a perfect start with victory in the first stage.
Eeckhout held on to
Belgian Bart Wellens (Spaar-Select) won the eighth and final round of the Superprestige cyclo-cross series in Harnes, France, on Sunday.
Wellens outsprinted Dutchman Richard Groenendaal, who had already wrapped up the overall title after round 7 in Diegem, Belgium. 30 seconds later came Belgian Sven Nijs, followed by world champion Erwin Vervecken.
With his win, Wellens finished second in the overall standings, one of eight Belgians in the top 10.