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Loddo does it again at Langkawi, while Charteau eyes the road ahead

The man is on a streak. Alberto Loddo scored his fourth win at the Tour de Langkawi Wednesday, again frustrating Ceramiche Panaria’s Maximiliano Richeze in a charge to the line at the end of a 137-kilometer ride from Kuala Terengganu to Cukai. Loddo (Selle Italia-Serramenti) charged across the line ahead of the main field, which included Crédit Agricole’s Anthony Charteau, the overall race leader who was more than content to finish in 59th place, secure in the knowledge that he holds a four-minute buffer with Friday’s short, but decisive, ride to the Genting Highlands ahead.

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Four-out-of-five: Loddo's won four of the five sprints he's contested in this Tour

Four-out-of-five: Loddo’s won four of the five sprints he’s contested in this Tour

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The man is on a streak. Alberto Loddo scored his fourth win at the Tour de Langkawi Wednesday, again frustrating Ceramiche Panaria’s Maximiliano Richeze in a charge to the line at the end of a 137-kilometer ride from Kuala Terengganu to Cukai.

Loddo (Selle Italia-Serramenti) charged across the line ahead of the main field, which included Crédit Agricole’s Anthony Charteau, the overall race leader who was more than content to finish in 59th place, secure in the knowledge that he holds a four-minute buffer with Friday’s short, but decisive, ride to the Genting Highlands ahead.

Loddo now stands one win shy of the five wins in a single edition of this Malaysian stage race, a mark held by Australian Graeme Brown, who established that formidable mark in 2005 when he rode the Tour as a member of the Panaria squad.

Wednesday evening Loddo showed that he stands a chance of meeting or exceeding that mark and becoming one of the best sprinters in the history of the Tour de Langkawi as he showed patience and maturity before launching an explosive sprint at precisely the right moment.

The need for speed: Early attacks kept the whole field strung out.

The need for speed: Early attacks kept the whole field strung out.

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“Tactics were a big, big part of it today and I have to thank my teammates, again for the good work they did,” said Loddo. “I was third with 500 meters to go and even though there was a South African rider (Rupert Rheeder) in front, I was able to overtake him.

“I can’t say how many wins I can take from this Tour,” he added, “but if the team continues to work the same way, I sure won’t be applying my brakes anywhere near the finish.”

As has been the case in most of the flat stages this week, the day started with a flurry of attacks at the start, but none succeeded until about the 30 kilometer mark. A five-man group – Sandy Casar (Française des Jeux), Mike Creed (Slipstream), Nicholas White (South Africa), Hirose Yoshimasa (Skil Shimano) and Shinichi Fukushima (Nippo-Meitan Hompo) – quickly established a 40-second gap and then set about extending that lead in often-rainy conditions.

By the feedzone at 71km, the quintet enjoyed a three-minute lead and that was about as much of a leash as the peloton was willing to allow. After taking on food and drink, the main field – led by a combination of riders from Loddo’s Selle Italia team, Charteau’s Crédit Agricoles and riders from the Tinkoff squad – stepped up the pace and began making contact with men in the break at around the 100km mark, near the town of Kemasek.

For Charteau, the pressure wasn’t great to protect his yellow jersey, and the race leader was content to leave much of the work to the teams interested in snagging a stage win.

... and the weather turned a little rough.

… and the weather turned a little rough.

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“The tactic was right where at the end, Selle Italia gave us a hand and now we are just waiting for the climb up Genting Highlands,” said Charteau after the race.

“I’m not nervous (about Genting) where it really just comes down to physical effort,” he noted. “The team trusts me to maintain focus.”

Thursday may provide another opportunity for Loddo to strut his stuff, as the Tour makes a 170km trek from Kuatan to Karak. The stage is largely flat, interrupted only by two Category 4 climbs, the first at the 50km and the second at 90, meaning there will be ample opportunity for sprinters to power into the finish at 170km.

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Results

Stage 6 (Kuala Terengganu to Cukai – 142km)
1. Loddo, Alberto (Ita) Selle Italia-Serramenti, 3:00:57
2. Richeze, Maximiliano (Arg) Ceramiche Panaria Nav
3. Brad Huff (USA) Team Slipstream
4. Takashi Miyazawa (Jap) Nippo-Meitan Hompo
5. Mariusz Wiesiak (Pol) Nippo-Meitan Hompo
6. Park Sung-baek (Kor) Korea National team
7. Rupert Rheeder (RSA) South Africa
8. William Bonnet (Fra) Credit Agricole
9. Pedro Costa (Por) Vitoria ASC
10. Franck Renier (Fra) Equipe Boygues Telekom, All Same Time. Overall
1. Charteau, Anthony (Fra) Crédit Agricole, 20:22:45
2. Pedraza, Walter (Col) Selle Italia-Serramenti, 20:26:45
3. Voeckler, Thomas (Fra) Équipe Bouygues, 20:27:24
4. Pasamontes, Luis (Spa) Unibet.com, 20:27:28
5. McLeod, Ian (RSA) Française des Jeux, 20:27:28
6. Brutt, Pavel (Rus) Tinkoff Credit System, 20:27:28
7. Loubet, Julien (Fra) AG2R Prévoyance, 20:27:28
8. Poilvet, Benoît (Fra) Crédit Agricole, 20:27:28
9. Kolesnikov, Sergey (Rus) Unibet.com, 20:27:30
10. Askari, Hossein (Irn) Giant Asia Racing, 20:27:32
CURRENT JERSEY HOLDERS Yellow (Tour Leader) – Anthony Charteau (Fra) Credit Agricole Green (Sprint Competition) – Alberto Loddo (Ita) Selle Italia-Serramenti Polka Dot (King of the mountains) – Anthony Charteau (Fra) Credit Agricole Blue (Asian rider) – Hossein Askari (Ira) Giant Asia Racing Team