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By Rob Jones, VeloNews Correspondent
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).
The race continues to head down the east coast of Malaysia, with today’s stage beginning in Dungun and ending in Kuantan. The attacks began from the very start, and the peloton was strung out at 60kph by the 4km mark. The field was constantly in a state of flux with attacks and counterattacks. Saturn was particularly aggressive, with Michael Barry off the front either alone or in breaks for 15km.
Shortly after Barry was caught, his teammate Chris Fisher and Innar Mandoja (AG2R Prevoyance) broke away with 40km remaining, on what came close to being the winning move. The duo managed to get a maximum time gap of 1:16 on the Mercury-led peloton, and were only reabsorbed with 6km to go.
Then the maneuvering began. First Saeco at 5km to go, then Team Canada at 4km. Ceramiche Panaria was next, but the speed and desire of too many other teams made it impossible for any one squad to dominate.
“We tried to set up a train”, said Koerts “but it was too fast, everyone kept attacking so we gave up.”
Instead, it was every man for himself in the final sprint, with Koerts shooting to the front in the final 100 meters. “Gord (Fraser) came by me at 300 meters and yelled ‘come on’. I got on his wheel and then went around to the front at the end.”
The time bonus for the win padded the Dutch rider’s lead to 25 seconds over Enrico Degano (Ceramiche Panaria) and Paolo Bettini (Mapei-Quick Step). Quaranta moves into a tie with Fraser 4 seconds further back.
Tomorrow the riders face the longest stage of the Tour – 241.1km.
Stage 4 – Dungun to Kuantan 135.5 km
1 Koerts, Jans (Nl) Mercury Viatel 2:36:29
2 Quaranta, Ivan (I) Alexia Alluminio
3 Nauduzs, Andris (Lat) Selle Italia-Pacific
4 Ruskys, Saulius (Lit) Team Gerolsteiner
5 Haselbacher, Rene (AUT) Team Gerolsteiner
6 Usov, Alexandre (Brs) Phonak
7 Strazzer, Massimo (I) Mobilvetta For Trentini
8 Bettini, Paolo (I) Mapei – Quick Step
9 Fernandez Domingo, David (Sp) Colchon Relax
10 Ordowski, Volker (G) Team Gerolsteiner
11 Balciunas, Linas (Lit) AG2R Prevoyance
12 Degano, Enrico (I) Ceramiche Panaria
13 Hinault, Sebastien (F) Credit Agricole
14 Mori, Massimiliano (I) Saeco Macchine Caffe
15 Arvesen, Kurt-Asle (N) Team Fakta
16 Febrianto, Febrianto (Ina) Indonesia
17 Fraser, Gordon (Can) Mercury Viatel
18 Shahrulneeza, Razali (Mas) Malaysia
19 Virbickas, Donatas (Lit) Collstrop-Palmans
20 Kadlec, Milan (Dk) Mobilvetta For Trentini
27 Jansen, Harm (Nl) Saturn
33 Petersen, Soren (Dk) Saturn
39 Axelsson, Niklas (S) Mercury Viatel
41 Decanio, Matthew (USA) Saturn
42 Vogels, Henk (AUS) Mercury Viatel
43 McCormack, Frank (USA) Saturn
53 Wherry, Chris (USA) Mercury Viatel
56 Barry, Michael (Can) Saturn
59 Horner, Chris (USA) Mercury Viatel
89 Klasna, Trent (USA) Saturn
118 Moninger, Scott (USA) Mercury Viatel
143 Fisher, Christopher (USA) Saturn all s.t.
1. Koerts, Jans (Nl) Mercury Viatel 17:22:35
2. Degano, Enrico (I) Ceramiche Panaria 0:25
3. Bettini, Paolo (I) Mapei – Quick Step s.t.
4. Quaranta, Ivan (I) Alexia Alluminio 0:29
5. Fraser, Gordon (Can) Mercury Viatel s.t.
6. Usov, Alexandre (Brs) Phonak 0:36
7. Jansen, Harm (Nl) Saturn 0:39
8. Aggiano, Elio (I) Mapei – Quick Step 0:41
9. Miller, Graeme (Nzl) Telekom Malaysia 0:43
10. Mori, Massimiliano (I) Saeco Macchine Caffe 0:44
11. Pankov, Oleg (Ukr) Collstrop-Palmans
12. Lanfranchi, Paolo (I) Mapei – Quick Step
13. Rasmussen, Jacob (Dk) CSC World Online
14. Weigold, Steffen (G) Team Gerolsteiner
15. Herve, Pascal (F) Alexia Alluminio
16. Axelsson, Niklas (S) Mercury Viatel
17. Flecha Giannoni, Juan (Sp) Colchon Relax
18. Rich, Michael (G) Team Gerolsteiner all s.t.
19. Strazzer, Massimo (I) Mobilvetta For Trentini 0:46
20. Wrolich, Peter (A) Team Gerolsteiner 0:50
25. Wherry, Chris (USA) Mercury Viatel 0:54
28. Horner, Chris (USA) Mercury Viatel 0:56
31. Walters, Mark (Can) Canada 0:57
36. Decanio, Matthew (USA) Saturn
37. Klasna, Trent (USA) Saturn
39. Erker, Jacob (Can) Canada all s.t.
46. Petersen, Soren (DEN) Saturn 1:00
49. Moninger, Scott (USA) Mercury Viatel 1:02
66. McCormack, Frank (USA) Saturn 1:06
71. Barry, Michael (Can) Saturn s.t.
73. Vogels, Henk (AUS) Mercury Viatel 1:09
80. Tuft, Svein (Can) Canada
81. Lange, Cory (Can) Canada all s.t.
94. Randell, Andrew (Can) Canada 1:18
107. Seiniewicz, Greg (Can) Canada s.t.
128. Van Velzen, Min (Can) Canada 2:42
148. Fisher, Christopher (USA) Saturn 6:34