Mercury-Viatel’s Koerts still in yellow
By Rob Jones
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.
One rider did go off the front – Roberto Lochowski of Team Fakta. Mercury and Mapei stayed at the front setting tempo so that his lead never reached more than 2:30, and he was back in the peloton afterapproximately 85 kilometers on his own. A brief flurry of attacks tookplace after Lochowski came back, but the only one to succeed was JacobErker (Team Canada) and the leader of the Asian rider competition Makoto Iijima (Japan), who were away for 22 kilometers – long enough for Erker to take the third and final sprint of the day before the peloton brought them back with 15 kilometers to go.
So, for the seventh consecutive stage, the field set up for a sprint.Mercury and Mapei were at the front setting the pace and the pelotoncarefully negotiated a sharp left with 500 meters remaining to enter the finishing straight. So far a straightforward ending, until the final 100 meters.
Quaranta was already out in front, having come off of double stagewinner Enrico Degano’s (Ceramiche Panaria) wheel with 150 meters to go.He cruised across the line in front of Koerts and Degano. Meanwhile,about a quarter of the way back riders were starting to hit thepavement. It looked like Alexandre Usov (Gerolsteiner) was the first togo down, after fending off another rider. He was rushed to hospital(later released, but he will not start tomorrow), as was MassimoStrazzer (leg – Mobilvetta Trentini), Razali Shahrulneeza (collarbone -Malaysia) and Febrianto Febrianto (fractured hip – Indonesia). TrentKlasna and Frank McCormack of Saturn both went down but were able to get back on their bikes and finish. 149 riders finished, but at least two of these will probably not start stage 8.
Ivan Quaranta has moved up to second in the overall standings, 41seconds behind Koerts and 1 second ahead of Paolo Bettini (Mapei-QuickStep). Gord Fraser (Mercury Viatel) remains in 4th place, 53 secondsbehind his teammate.
Tomorrow the riders face 154 kilometers, with the final 50 kilometers aCategory 1 climb to the Cameron Highlands.
– Fraser says that his left wrist (injured in a stage one crash) is notimproving. “The doctor says that it is just a strain, but I can’t moveit from side to side. We won’t know for sure until I get it x-rayed.”
Stage 7 Melaka to Klang 172.10 km
1. Quaranta, Ivan (I) Alexia Alluminio 4:12:34
2. Koerts, Jans (Nl) Mercury Viatel
3. Degano, Enrico (I) Ceramiche Panaria
4. Fernandez Domingo, David (Sp) Colchon Relax
5. Nauduzs, Andris (Lat) Selle Italia-Pacific
6. Hinault, Sèbastien (F) Credit Agricole
7. Virbickas, Donatas (Lit) Collstrop-Palmans
8. Di Cintio, Cesare (I) Cantina Tollo
9. Pankov, Oleg (Ukr) Collstrop-Palmans
10. Mandoja, Innar (Est) AG2R Prevoyance
11. Haselbacher, Renè (A) Team Gerolsteiner
12. Bettini, Paolo (I) Mapei – Quick Step
13. De Meester, Hans (B) Collstrop-Palmans
14. Flecha Giannoni, Juan (Sp) Colchon Relax
15. Colonna, Federico (I) Cantina Tollo
16. Cioni, Dario (I) Mapei – Quick Step
17. Brognara, Andrea (I) Alexia Alluminio
18. Johansen, Allan (DEN) Team Fakta
19. Loder, Thierry (F) AG2R Prevoyance
20. Sunderland, Scott (Aus) Team Fakta
36. Wherry, Chris (USA) Mercury Viatel
39. Walters, Mark (Can) Canada
41. Horner, Chris (USA) Mercury Viatel
46. Axelsson, Niklas (S) Mercury Viatel
50. Fraser, Gordon (Can) Mercury Viatel
61. Jansen, Harm (Nl) Saturn
66. Petersen, Soren (Dk) Saturn
68. Lange, Cory (Can) Canada
79. Seiniewicz, Greg (Can) Canada
84. Barry, Michael (Can) Saturn
88. Moninger, Scott (USA) Mercury Viatel
95. Decanio, Matthew (USA) Saturn
104. Tuft, Svein (Can) Canada
123. Van Velzen, Min (Can) Canada
125. Erker, Jacob (Can) Canada all s.t.
131. Randell, Andrew (Can) Canada 1:17
134. Fisher, Christopher (USA) Saturn 1:27
135. Vogels, Henk (AUS) Mercury Viatel 1:30
144. Klasna, Trent (USA) Saturn
148. McCormack, Frank (USA) Saturn all s.t.
1. Jans Koerts (Nl) Mercury Viatel 29:56:50
2. Ivan Quaranta (I) Alexia Alluminio 0:41
3. Paolo Bettini (I) Mapei – Quick Step 0:42
4. Gordon Fraser (Can) Mercury Viatel 0:53
5. Harm Jansen (Nl) Saturn 0:58
6. Massimiliano Mori (I) Saeco Macchine Caffe 1:00
7. Massimo Strazzer (I) Mobilvetta Trentini 1:02
8. Enrico Degano (I) Ceramiche Panaria 1:03
9. Graeme Miller (NZ) Telekom Malaysia 1:05
10. Oleg Pankov (Ukr) Collstrop-Palmans 1:06
11. Paolo Lanfranchi (I) Mapei – Quick Step s.t.
12. Elio Aggiano (I) Mapei – Quick Step 1:07
13. Michael Rich (G) Team Gerolsteiner 1:08
14. Jacob Rasmussen (Dk) CSC World Online 1:10
15. Pascal Herve (F) Alexia Alluminio
16. Juan Flecha Giannoni (Sp) Colchon Relax
17. Niklas Axelsson (S) Mercury Viatel
18. Steffen Weigold (G) Team Gerolsteiner all s.t.
19. Peter Wrolich (A) Team Gerolsteiner 1:12
20. Renè Joergensen (Dk) CSC World Online 1:16
24. Chris Wherry (USA) Mercury Viatel 1:20
26. Jacob Erker (Can) Canada s.t.
28. Chris Horner (USA) Mercury Viatel 1:22
30. Mark Walters (Can) Canada 1:23
38. Matthew Decanio (USA) Saturn
39. Trent Klasna (USA) Saturn all s.t.
44. Soren Petersen (Dk) Saturn 1:26
47. Svein Tuft (Can) Canada 1:28
48. Scott Moninger (USA) Mercury Viatel 1:28
52. Michael Barry (Can) Saturn 1:31
67. Frank McCormack (USA) Saturn 1:32
75. Cory Lange (Can) Canada 1:35
98. Greg Seiniewicz (Can) Canada 1:44
117. Henk Vogels (Aus) Mercury Viatel 2:59
118. Andrew Randell (Can) Canada 3:01
120. Min Van Velzen (Can) Canada 3:08
142. Christopher Fisher (USA) Saturn 8:27