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Navigators’ O’Neill takes Langkawi TT

The outcome of Monday’s stage 4 time trial at Malaysia’s Tour de Langkawi came as a surprise to almost no one. A naturally strong time-trialist, Aussie Nathan O’Neill has always ridden well at this early-season race in Southeast Asia, and Monday was no exception. The Navigators pro blasted his way around the flat seaside circuit, posting a day’s best 24:42 on the 20.3km course in Bachok.

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Fukushima hangs onto yellow jersey

By Jason Sumner, VeloNews associate editor

True-to-form: O’Neill was expected to do well and he did.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

The outcome of Monday’s stage 4 time trial at Malaysia’s Tour de Langkawi came as a surprise to almost no one. A naturally strong time-trialist, Aussie Nathan O’Neill has always ridden well at this early-season race in Southeast Asia, and Monday was no exception. The Navigators pro blasted his way around the flat seaside circuit, posting a day’s best 24:42 on the 20.3km course in Bachok.

But what did raise a few eyebrows were the efforts turned in by the two men considered the top contenders for the TdL’s big prize, South African Ryan Cox and Venezuelan mountain goat Jose Rujano. At the end of another near-100-degree day in Malaysia, Cox (Barloworld) was just 4.82 seconds off of O’Neill’s pace, while Rujano (Colombia Selle Italia) surrendered only 15.25. That left the pair of climbing specialists as Nos. 1 and 1A on the favorites list come the all-important stage 8 climb to the Genting Highlands.

“For me the goal is to time trial better than the other climbers,” said Cox as he warmed up for his turn on the TT course. “If I do that then half the job is done for Genting. The Venezuelan guy, he’s pretty small so hopefully maybe I can put a minute into him today. Maybe he time trials well, so we’ll have to see. It’s a flat time trial, so it’s probably the worst stage for me in the whole tour. So if I can have a good day on my worst day, then it will be perfect.”

Cox held his own and remains a favorite for the overall

Cox held his own and remains a favorite for the overall

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Indeed, while perfect might have been a stretch after Cox pulled just 10 seconds away from Rujano, at least now he knows who the aggressors will have to be come the decisive stage at Genting.

“Even if it’s just five second in front of the better climbers, that’s good, because then they have to attack me, instead of me attacking them,” the 25-year-old said. “That’s when the cards change.”

For many, those cards may have already changed. While Japan’s Koji Fukushima (Bridgestone) limited his losses to just 1:39 to hold onto the yellow jersey with 1:20 margin over O’Neill, Navigators’ GC hopeful Cesar Grajales couldn’t match the other climbers, losing 1:23 to O’Neill. Ceramica-Panaria’s Mexican climber Julio Perez was also off the mark, placing 74th at 2:41.

Moving in the other direction were the fortunes of the Discovery Channel squad, which placed three riders in the top 10 of the time trial, led by Canadian Michael Barry who was fifth at 24.19. American teammate Tom Danielson was ninth at 41.97, and Japanese neo pro Fumi Beppu ended up 10th at 43.50, leaving Discovery with three riders in the top nine of the GC. And with three relatively flat stages between now and Genting, they will have lots of options.

“We have two riders who can be our leaders — Mike and Tom,” said team director Lorenzo LePage. “After today we know more about who will control the race. With our team and our new sponsor I always say we cannot come here just to be here. We have to show something and have a good position in the overall.”

Judging by the words of his two top guns, that shouldn’t be a problem.

“Genting is tough, but I didn’t expect my form to be as good as it was in the time trial,” said Danielson, who won the overall here two years ago as a member of the U.S.-based Saturn team. “In theory I should be doing much less watts, but if you take what I did today and you take my weight I should be able to ride a good tempo for Michael and make some people’s faces crooked.”

Prime viewing from the Motorworks

Prime viewing from the Motorworks

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Barry, too, was surprised with his form, considering he’d been riding on “snow-covered gravel roads in Colorado” before coming to this equatorial nation.

“It’s extremely hot, but I felt good,” Barry said. “I haven’t done much intense training so I really didn’t know what to expect going into this. But I feel pretty strong overall, so now I’ll just try to save myself for Genting. We’ve got a bunch of guys riding well, so just taking it day by day. Going up a climb that big in extreme heat you never know. We could be awesome or way off the back.”

Like Barry, Cox and Rujano also have teammates hovering near the top of the GC. South African Tiaan Kannemeyer (fifth) and Brit Tom Southam (11th) give Barloworld options, while the man who wore the yellow jersey coming into the Genting stage, Marlon Perez, should be a key asset to Rujano.

“This is my third time doing this race,” said Cox who was second overall a year ago. “I’ve learned that the last 3km of the Genting climb is the race, that’s it. And not losing time in the time trial. Last year we just underestimated [eventual overall winner Freddy Gonzalez of Colombia Selle Italia], because he wasn’t really looking so good. We initiated a little bit too soon. I think if I had just watched him and stayed with him I could have won the whole thing. That’s where I messed up, being a little bit too anxious trying to get away from him instead of just not letting him get away from me.”

Cox will almost certainly get the chance to atone for that mistake, while Fukushima earned the right to sport yellow for at least one more day.

“Today was hard but I was inspired by the jersey,” said the Bridgestone pro, who is the first Asian to legitimately hold the lead at the TdL. “Tomorrow will be hard too, but I will be inspired again, too.” RACE NOTES
Dedications
Both O’Neill and Fukushima made reference to passed on loved ones in the post-race press conference. O’Neill dedicated his win to former training partner Matthew Cole who was killed by a drunk driver last Friday in Melbourne.

“When I first started riding in 1988 he was one of the best guys in my club,” recalled O’Neill of Cole who was on his bike when the accident happened. “He was a guy I always looked up to and we’ve been friends for many years.”

Meanwhile, Fukushima paid tribute to his former girlfriend who died from an illness three years ago. “I think of her and always try my best,” he said.

Asian rider rules
Apparently being an Asian rider isn’t enough to qualify one for the Asian jersey competition at the Tour de Langkawi. At least that’s how it appeared on the stage 4 results sheet, which did not include Discovery’s Beppu in the jersey standings. The Japanese neo pro currently sits ninth overall and would be second in the Asian standings behind Fukushima if he were included.

VeloNews was still awaiting clarification of the rule from event organizers, but if Beppu was excluded because he rides for a non-Asian team it would derail his primary goal for this race, which was to “win the Asian jersey.”

North American update
It was a solid day for the North American contingent here, led by Discovery’s Barry and Danielson who both cracked the top 10 of the stage and overall standings. Americans Michael Creed (18th at 1:02), Tony Cruz (19th at 1:09), Jeff Louder (23rd at 1:15) and Mark Walters (24th at 1:16) also fared well in the stage.

Patrick McCarty ended up 51st at 2:01, with Mexico’s Perez in 74th and Credit Agricole’s Saul Raisin 91st, at 3:02. JERSEY UPDATE
Yellow (Overall): Koji Fukushima (Jpn), Bridgestone
Green (Points): Graeme Brown (Aus), Ceramica-Panaria
Polka Dot (KoM): Koji Fukushima (Jpn), Bridgestone
Blue (Top Asian): Koji Fukushima (Jpn), Bridgestone

NEXT UP: Stage 5 — Kota Bahru to Kuala Terengganu, 163.9 km
A dead flat run along the South China Sea awaits rider in Tuesday. Expect some early attacks, but a bunch sprint at the finish.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Photo Gallery

Results

Stage 4 Results

1. Nathan O'Neill, Navigators Insurance, 24:42.76

2. Ryan Cox, Team Barloworld, :04

3. Jose Rujano, Colombia – Selle Italia, :15

4. Tiaan Kannemeyer, Team Barloworld, :20

5. Michael Barry, Discovery Channel, :24

6. Marlon Perez Arango, Colombia – Selle Italia, :27

7. Bogdan Bondariew, Action, :36

8. David Plaza Romero, Team Barloworld, :37

9. Tom Danielson, Discovery Channel, :41

10. Fumiyuki Beppu, Discovery Channel, :43

11. Russell Van Hout, Colombia – Selle Italia, :51

12. Jurgen Van De Walle, Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, :53

13. Tom Southam, Team Barloworld, :53

14. Sergio Ghisalberti, Domina Vacanze, :55

15. Benjamin John Day, Mrbookmaker.Com – Sports Tech, :55

16. Alireza Haghi, Iran, :56

17. David Mccann, Ireland, :59

18. Michael Creed, Discovery Channel, 01:02

19. Antonio Cruz, Discovery Channel, 01:09

20. Brett Lancaster, Ceramica Panaria – Navigare, 01:10

21. Piotr Chmielewski, Action, 01:13

22. Jorg Jaksche, Liberty Seguros, 01:14

23. Jeffry Louder, Navigators Insurance, 01:15

24. Mark Walters, Navigators Insurance, 01:16

25. Marcin Osinski, Action, 01:16

26. Cesar Grajales, Navigators Insurance, 01:23

27. Fortunato Baliani, Ceramica Panaria – Navigare, 01:23

28. Matej Jurco, Domina Vacanze, 01:23

29. Eric Leblacher, Credit Agricole, 01:24

30. David Mckenzie, Wismilak, 01:25

31. Paul Manning, GBR, 01:26

32. Ghader Mizbani, Iran, 01:31

33. Houssein Askari, Iran, 01:32

34. Chris Newton, GBR, 01:33

35. Yannick Talabardon, Credit Agricole, 01:33

36. Koen De Kort, Liberty Seguros, 01:34

37. Rene Andrle, Liberty Seguros, 01:37

38. Tonton Susanto, Wismilak, 01:39

39. Koji Fukushima, Bridgestone Anchor, 01:39

40. Leonardo Scarselli, Colombia – Selle Italia, 01:39

41. Christopher Bradford, Wismilak, 01:39

42. Dean Downing, GBR, 01:42

43. Sergiy Matveyev, Ceramica Panaria – Navigare, 01:43

44. Thomas White, GBR, 01:46

45. Antonio Salomone, Team Barloworld, 01:49

46. Camille Bouquet, Mrbookmaker.Com – Sports Tech, 01:49

47. Martin Muller, Team Wiesenhof, 01:50

48. Geoffroy Lequatre, Credit Agricole, 01:52

49. Luca Solari, Domina Vacanze, 01:58

50. Oleg Grishkine, Navigators Insurance, 01:58

51. Patrick Mccarty, Discovery Channel, 02:01

52. Christophe Le Mevel, Credit Agricole, 02:02

53. Takehiro Mizutani, Bridgestone Anchor, 02:03

54. Jesus Hernandez, Liberty Seguros, 02:03

55. Dariusz Baranowski, Liberty Seguros, 02:03

56. Stephen Gallagher, Ireland, 02:06

57. Kurt Van De Wouwer, Mrbookmaker.Com – Sports Tech, 02:07

58. Shinichi Fukushima, Bridgestone Anchor, 02:07

59. Robert Hayles, GBR, 02:10

60. David Kopp, Team Wiesenhof, 02:10

61. Enrico Poitschke, Team Wiesenhof, 02:11

62. Nicolas Vogondy, Credit Agricole, 02:11

63. Moezeddin Seyed, Iran, 02:11

64. Mahdi Sohrabi, Iran, 02:12

65. Mirko Allegrini, Ceramica Panaria – Navigare, 02:15

66. Ahad Kazemi, Iran, 02:16

67. Maxim Iglinskiy, Domina Vacanze, 02:18

68. Giuseppe Palumbo, Acqua & Sapone – Adria Mobil, 02:20

69. Ruggero Borghi, Domina Vacanze, 02:23

70. René Joergensen, Team Barloworld, 02:27

71. Rodney Green, Team Barloworld, 02:28

72. Valery Kobzarenko, Acqua & Sapone – Adria Mobil, 02:30

73. Ralf Grabsch, Team Wiesenhof, 02:30

74. Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio, Ceramica Panaria – Navigare, 02:31

75. Adi Wibowo, Wismilak, 02:32

76. Jens Renders, Mrbookmaker.Com – Sports Tech, 02:33

77. Jens Heppner, Team Wiesenhof, 02:40

78. Geert Verheyen, Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 02:40

79. Yong Li Ng, Proton T-Bikes, 02:43

80. Julian Winn, GBR, 02:46

81. Lars Wackernagel, Team Wiesenhof, 02:47

82. Md. Jasmin Ruslan, Proton T-Bikes, 02:47

83. Adam Wadecki, Action, 02:49

84. Hassan Maleki, Iran, 02:49

85. Nuno Ribeiro, Liberty Seguros, 02:50

86. Md. Fauzan Lutfi, Proton T-Bikes, 02:54

87. Gregory Habeaux, Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 02:54

88. Stefan Van Dijck, Mrbookmaker.Com – Sports Tech, 02:59

89. Samai Samai, Wismilak, 02:59

90. Miyataka Shimizu, Bridgestone Anchor, 02:59

91. Saul Raisin, Credit Agricole, 03:02

92. Nico Sijmens, Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 03:04

93. Cristian Bonfanti, Domina Vacanze, 03:05

94. Johan Verstrepen, Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 03:07

95. Hamad Md. Mahazir, Malaysia, 03:12

96. Dennis Kraft, Action, 03:14

97. Frederic Gabriel, Mrbookmaker.Com – Sports Tech, 03:15

98. Yasutaka Tashiro, Bridgestone Anchor, 03:17

99. Kristian House, GBR, 03:17

100. Alessandro D:andrea, Acqua & Sapone – Adria Mobil, 03:20

101. Paul Griffin, Ireland, 03:28

102. Sven Renders, Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 03:29

103. Trent Wilson, Colombia – Selle Italia, 03:31

104. Claudio Astolfi, Acqua & Sapone – Adria Mobil, 03:32

105. Md. Razali Shahrulneeza, Malaysia, 03:34

106. Wawan Setyobudi, Wismilak, 03:34

107. Enrico Grigoli, Domina Vacanze, 03:38

108. Roger Aitken, Ireland, 03:39

109. Najmee Wan Mohd., Proton T-Bikes, 03:40

110. Paidi O:brien, Ireland, 03:40

111. Moreno Di Biase, Colombia – Selle Italia, 03:44

112. Zbigniew Piatek, Action, 03:44

113. Graeme Brown, Ceramica Panaria – Navigare, 03:45

114. Steffen Radochla, Team Wiesenhof, 03:45

115. Vassili Davidenko, Navigators Insurance, 03:49

116. Joseba Beloki Dorronsoro, Liberty Seguros, 03:51

117. Raffaele Illiano, Colombia – Selle Italia, 03:55

118. Suhardi Hassan, Proton T-Bikes, 03:56

119. Leonardo Moser, Acqua & Sapone – Adria Mobil, 03:56

120. Julian Dean, Credit Agricole, 03:57

121. Takashi Miyazawa, Bridgestone Anchor, 03:58

122. Antonio Bucciero, Acqua & Sapone – Adria Mobil, 03:58

123. James Van Landschoot, Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 03:59

124. Rosli Nor Effandy, Malaysia, 04:02

125. Denis Bertolini, Acqua & Sapone – Adria Mobil, 04:03

126. Fallanie Ali, Proton T-Bikes, 04:07

127. Kazimierz Stafiej, Action, 04:08

128. Ramle Md. Rizal, Malaysia, 04:10

129. Guillermo Bongiorno, Ceramica Panaria – Navigare, 04:18

130. Sean Lacey, Ireland, 04:27

131. Abd. Nasir Md. Yusof, Malaysia, 04:47

132. Daud Md. Fuad, Malaysia, 04:50

133. Shinji Suzuki, Bridgestone Anchor, 05:09

Overall Classification after Stage 4

1. Koji Fukushima, Bridgestone Anchor, 11:18:32

2. Nathan O'Neill, Navigators Insurance, 01:20

3. Ryan Cox, Team Barloworld, 01:22

4. Jose Rujano, Colombia – Selle Italia, 01:36

5. Tiaan Kannemeyer, Team Barloworld, 01:41

6. Michael Barry, Discovery Channel, 01:44

7. Marlon Perez Arango, Colombia – Selle Italia, 01:48

8. Tom Danielson, Discovery Channel, 02:02

9. Fumiyuki Beppu, Discovery Channel, 02:04

10. Jurgen Van De Walle, Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 02:14

11. Tom Southam, Team Barloworld, 02:14

12. Sergio Ghisalberti, Domina Vacanze, 02:15

13. Benjamin John Day, Mrbookmaker.Com – Sports Tech, 02:15

14. Alireza Haghi, Iran, 02:17

15. David Mccann, Ireland, 02:19

16. Michael Creed, Discovery Channel, 02:23

17. Antonio Cruz, Discovery Channel, 02:30

18. Piotr Chmielewski, Action, 02:34

19. Jorg Jaksche, Liberty Seguros, 02:34

20. Mark Walters, Navigators Insurance, 02:37

21. Marcin Osinski, Action, 02:37

22. Cesar Grajales, Navigators Insurance, 02:43

23. Matej Jurco, Domina Vacanze, 02:44

24. Eric Leblacher, Credit Agricole, 02:45

25. David Mckenzie, Wismilak, 02:46

26. Paul Manning, GBR, 02:47

27. Ghader Mizbani, Iran, 02:52

28. Houssein Askari, Iran, 02:53

29. Chris Newton, GBR, 02:54

30. Yannick Talabardon, Credit Agricole, 02:54

31. Koen De Kort, Liberty Seguros, 02:54

32. Christopher Bradford, Wismilak, 02:56

33. Rene Andrle, Liberty Seguros, 02:58

34. Tonton Susanto, Wismilak, 02:59

35. Leonardo Scarselli, Colombia – Selle Italia, 03:00

36. Dean Downing, GBR, 03:03

37. Thomas White, GBR, 03:07

38. Jeffry Louder, Navigators Insurance, 03:09

39. Oleg Grishkine, Navigators Insurance, 03:09

40. Antonio Salomone, Team Barloworld, 03:10

41. Camille Bouquet, Mrbookmaker.Com – Sports Tech, 03:10

42. Geoffroy Lequatre, Credit Agricole, 03:13

43. Luca Solari, Domina Vacanze, 03:19

44. Patrick Mccarty, Discovery Channel, 03:22

45. Christophe Le Mevel, Credit Agricole, 03:23

46. Takehiro Mizutani, Bridgestone Anchor, 03:24

47. Jesus Hernandez, Liberty Seguros, 03:24

48. Dariusz Baranowski, Liberty Seguros, 03:24

49. Stephen Gallagher, Ireland, 03:27

50. Kurt Van De Wouwer, Mrbookmaker.Com – Sports Tech, 03:28

51. Shinichi Fukushima, Bridgestone Anchor, 03:28

52. Robert Hayles, GBR, 03:31

53. David Kopp, Team Wiesenhof, 03:31

54. Enrico Poitschke, Team Wiesenhof, 03:31

55. Nicolas Vogondy, Credit Agricole, 03:32

56. Moezeddin Seyed, Iran, 03:32

57. Mahdi Sohrabi, Iran, 03:33

58. Mirko Allegrini, Ceramica Panaria – Navigare, 03:36

59. Ahad Kazemi, Iran, 03:37

60. Maxim Iglinskiy, Domina Vacanze, 03:39

61. Giuseppe Palumbo, Acqua & Sapone – Adria Mobil, 03:41

62. René Joergensen, Team Barloworld, 03:42

63. Ruggero Borghi, Domina Vacanze, 03:44

64. David Plaza Romero, Team Barloworld, 03:46

65. Russell Van Hout, Colombia – Selle Italia, 03:46

66. Rodney Green, Team Barloworld, 03:48

67. Valery Kobzarenko, Acqua & Sapone – Adria Mobil, 03:50

68. Ralf Grabsch, Team Wiesenhof, 03:51

69. Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio, Ceramica Panaria – Navigare, 03:51

70. Adi Wibowo, Wismilak, 03:53

71. Jens Renders, Mrbookmaker.Com – Sports Tech, 03:54

72. Jens Heppner, Team Wiesenhof, 04:01

73. Geert Verheyen, Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 04:01

74. Julian Winn, GBR, 04:07

75. Md. Jasmin Ruslan, Proton T-Bikes, 04:07

76. Martin Muller, Team Wiesenhof, 04:09

77. Adam Wadecki, Action, 04:09

78. Nuno Ribeiro, Liberty Seguros, 04:11

79. Md. Fauzan Lutfi, Proton T-Bikes, 04:15

80. Gregory Habeaux, Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 04:15

81. Stefan Van Dijck, Mrbookmaker.Com – Sports Tech, 04:20

82. Samai Samai, Wismilak, 04:20

83. Miyataka Shimizu, Bridgestone Anchor, 04:20

84. Saul Raisin, Credit Agricole, 04:23

85. Nico Sijmens, Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 04:25

86. Cristian Bonfanti, Domina Vacanze, 04:26

87. Johan Verstrepen, Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 04:28

88. Dennis Kraft, Action, 04:30

89. Hamad Md. Mahazir, Malaysia, 04:33

90. Frederic Gabriel, Mrbookmaker.Com – Sports Tech, 04:35

91. Yasutaka Tashiro, Bridgestone Anchor, 04:37

92. Kristian House, GBR, 04:38

93. Alessandro D:andrea, Acqua & Sapone – Adria Mobil, 04:41

94. Graeme Brown, Ceramica Panaria – Navigare, 04:44

95. Paul Griffin, Ireland, 04:49

96. Sven Renders, Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 04:50

97. Trent Wilson, Colombia – Selle Italia, 04:52

98. Claudio Astolfi, Acqua & Sapone – Adria Mobil, 04:53

99. Md. Razali Shahrulneeza, Malaysia, 04:55

100. Wawan Setyobudi, Wismilak, 04:55

101. Enrico Grigoli, Domina Vacanze, 04:58

102. Roger Aitken, Ireland, 04:59

103. Paidi O:brien, Ireland, 05:01

104. Moreno Di Biase, Colombia – Selle Italia, 05:04

105. Zbigniew Piatek, Action, 05:05

106. Steffen Radochla, Team Wiesenhof, 05:06

107. Takashi Miyazawa, Bridgestone Anchor, 05:09

108. Suhardi Hassan, Proton T-Bikes, 05:15

109. Raffaele Illiano, Colombia – Selle Italia, 05:16

110. Julian Dean, Credit Agricole, 05:18

111. Denis Bertolini, Acqua & Sapone – Adria Mobil, 05:18

112. Antonio Bucciero, Acqua & Sapone – Adria Mobil, 05:19

113. James Van Landschoot, Landbouwkrediet – Colnago, 05:20

114. Fallanie Ali, Proton T-Bikes, 05:21

115. Rosli Nor Effandy, Malaysia, 05:23

116. Guillermo Bongiorno, Ceramica Panaria – Navigare, 05:23

117. Kazimierz Stafiej, Action, 05:28

118. Yong Li Ng, Proton T-Bikes, 05:51

119. Lars Wackernagel, Team Wiesenhof, 06:10

120. Bogdan Bondariew, Action, 06:35

121. Leonardo Moser, Acqua & Sapone – Adria Mobil, 06:51

122. Brett Lancaster, Ceramica Panaria – Navigare, 07:08

123. Fortunato Baliani, Ceramica Panaria – Navigare, 07:22

124. Vassili Davidenko, Navigators Insurance, 09:09

125. Joseba Beloki Dorronsoro, Liberty Seguros, 09:49

126. Najmee Wan Mohd., Proton T-Bikes, 10:34

127. Shinji Suzuki, Bridgestone Anchor, 10:45

128. Sergiy Matveyev, Ceramica Panaria – Navigare, 13:57

129. Hassan Maleki, Iran, 32:39

130. Abd. Nasir Md. Yusof, Malaysia, 34:36

131. Daud Md. Fuad, Malaysia, 34:40

132. Ramle Md. Rizal, Malaysia, 36:48

133. Sean Lacey, Ireland, 39:50