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.
All it took was one little mistake in the race map, and Enrico Degano (Ceramiche Panaria) beat out powerhouses Mercury Viatel and Mapei-Quick Step in a bunch sprint to take his second stage of the Tour de Langkawi. Jans Koerts (Mercury Viatel) continues to hold the yellow jersey, although his lead over Degano has been cut to 18 seconds from 25.
Frenchman Damien Nazon (Bonjour) won for the second straight day at the Etoile de Bessèges as he took the fourth stage in Les Fumades in a sprint from Jo Planckaert and Steffen Radochla. Lotto’s Nico Eeckhout held onto the race leader’s jersey.
The stage featured a 10-rider break – Peter Farazijn (Cofidis), Bert Scheirlinckx (Collstrop), Chris Peers (Cofidis), Sebastien Demarbaix (AG2R), Lenaic Olivier (Jean Delatour), Thierry Gouvenou, Loic Lamouller (both BigMat), Andy Flickinger (Festina), Franck Perque (Francaise des Jeux) and Stuart O’Grady (Credit Agricole) -- that went off at the 20km
Average speed: 51.95 kilometers per hour for 135.5km. That’s all you need to know to understand stage 4 of the Tour de Langkawi. It was fast, brutally fast, more than a kilometer and a half per hour faster than Mario Cipollini's record Tour de France stage last year. And at the finish, overall leader Jans Koerts (Mercury-Viatel) added a stage win to his honors, easily outdistancing Ivan Quaranta (Alexia Alluminio) and Andris Nauduzs (Selle Italia-Pacific).
French rider Damien Nazon of the Bonjour team won the third stage of the season-opening Etoile de Bessèges race on Friday but Belgium's Nico Eeckhout kept the leader's jersey he has held from the start. Nazon leapt into second place overall after winning the 140km stage from Nimes to Ales in southern France. Jan Svorada of the Czech Republic was second in Friday's stage and lies third overall. The stage was marked by a number of falls, before a group of 22 riders broke away 10km from Ales. Denmark's Nicolay Larsen led in the closing kilometers before falling, allowing Nazon to pedal to
Mapei-Quick Step finally made it onto the winner’s podium Thursday at the Tour de Langkawi, with Paolo Bettini just nipping Phonak's Alexandre Usov at the line. Mercury Viatel's Jans Koerts continues to hold onto the yellow leader's jersey, with stage 2 winner Enrico Degano (Ceramiche Panaria) and Bettini 10 seconds back.
The 177km third stage along the east coast of Malaysia, from Kota Bharu to Kuala Terengganu, was led for much of the day by the breakaway duo of Svein Tuft (Team Canada) and Soren Petersen (Saturn). Tuft initiated the break a mere 6km into the stage, and was soon joined by
Festina’s Steffen Radochla won the second stage of the Etoile des Bessèges, 151km between Septèmes-les-Vallons and Miramas in France. Belgian Nico Eeckhout (Lotto-Adecco) retained the leader’s jersey.
Under sunny but windy conditions, the 22-year-old German Radochla won a sprint finish at the end of an animated stage marked by many aggressive, but failed, breakaways. After a 45km breakaway by Jean Delatour’s Christophe Edaleine was brought back, the attacks kept coming until the final kilometer, but the peloton regrouped in time to set up the field sprint, with Radochla edging out Jaan
Australian neo-pro Mathew Hayman (Rabobank) won the overall title at the Majorca Challenge, while another Australian, Robbie McEwen (Domo-Farm Frites), finally beat Germany’s Erik Zabel in a field-sprint finish. The final stage was a 153.4km circuit around Palmanova, which the peloton covered in 3:45:04, for an average of 38.104kph.
With Hayman holding a 1:46 lead over Francisco Cabello, the Kelme team was the animator of the race, placing five of its riders into a 15-man break, which rode out to a three minute lead over the day’s three climbs.
Behind, the Rabobank squad organized the chase