Posted by Editor on 01/30/00
Walters Retains Yellow Jersey
Team Canada rode a superb race today to keep Mark Walters in the Yellow Leader's jersey. With 10 riders all less than a minute out of first, and tough Category One climb to contend with, the Canadian team knew that they were in for a battle.
Stage 5, 168 kilometres from Tapah to Bentong, began quickly, as teams went after the Hot Spot Sprints that began only 9 kilometres into the race. Multiple attacks were launched, but the first one to stick was at kilometre 36. 11 riders broke clear, including two serious threats to Walters - Bjornar Vestol (Linda McCartney), who was 51 seconds back, and Morten Sonne (Denmark) at 1:15. Peter Wedge went to cover it for Canada.
The group quickly went 1:11 clear by the 40 kilometre mark, making Vestol the leader on the road. The Canadians didn't over react, sending Sylvain Beauchamp to the front to maintain tempo, and keeping the rest of the team in reserve for later efforts if needed. Neither Mercury nor Saturn had key riders up front, so the feeling was that it was best to wait and see how things developed.
However, the break continued to put time on the peloton and, by kilometre 60, were 3 minutes up. Canada then sent Eric Wohlberg and Matt Anand up to help Beauchamp. The lack of support by other teams in the chase meant that the gap continued to expand, reaching 4:28 by the 68 kilometre mark. It was at this point that the other teams got involved in the chase, with Farm Frites and Mercury both joining Canada at the front. Even then, the gap grew to 5 minutes before the chasers started to reel the front group in.
By the start of the climb, at 94 kilometres, the difference was down to 2 minutes, and the leaders had fractured, with one rider on his own and 6 chasers (the rest had drifted back to the peloton). At the 102 kilometre mark it started to rain, and by 116 kilometres the field was back together.
However the chase had taken its toll, and the front group was down to approximately 80 riders. The Canadians started to drop off at this point, with first Anand and then Beauchamp falling back as Mercury forced the tempo. The heavy rain did not seem to slow the racers down appreciably, with them speeding through the switchbacks at 35-40 kilometres per hour.
The real carnage began as the riders crested the top of the climb and began the 50 kilometres of descending to the finish. Rain, mudslides and poor road surface led to multiple crashes. The field completely splintered, with many riders choosing discretion instead of valour on the descent. Walters was one who could not afford this luxury, and was forced to take chances on the sketchy switchbacks.
He went down hard about halfway through the descent, landing in a concrete gutter and sliding - taking skin off his left side. He lost no time remounting and chasing. Gord Fraser also went down, as did team mate Floyd Landis, sitting second in General Classification. By the time everthing calmed down, and the field started to reassemble itself, it was 25 kilometres to go. At that point there was a group of 5 off the front, with Walters in a group of15 just behind, who were caught shortly afterwards. No other Canadians had made it into this group, so the Yellow Jersey was forced to fend for himself.
New Zealander Glen Mitchell (Telekom Malaysia All Stars) attacked with 20 to go, taking Benjamin Brooks (Linda McCartney) and Trent Klasna (Saturn) with him. This was serious, since Klasna was only 36 seconds down on the lead. Brooks was dropped very quickly by the other two. Walters was forced to do the chasing on his own initially, and the duo in front crept up to a 42 second lead by the 10 kilometres to go mark. At this point Mercury also got into the chase, wanting to have Fraser at the front for the stage finish. Klasna continued to fight them off, but the gap was dropping slowly, down to 20 seconds in the last 2 kilometres, and 13 seconds as the leaders began the last kilometre. Although the chasers continued to close (to within 7 seconds by the finish), the stage win came down to Mitchell and Klasna. Mitchell timed his attack perfectly, jumping by Klasna with 150 metres to go, and holding the American off to take the stage. Fraser took the sprint for third, while Walters rolled in with the lead chasers, preserving his Yellow Jersey status for another day.
After the stage, he was full of praise for his teammates, "The team did a great job for me; they worked their butts off today." Tomorrow they will be back at it again, however, the 192 kilometre stage (second longest of the race) has only two Category 4 climbs, so the riders may take it a bit easy after two hard days.
Stage 5 - Tapah to Bentong 168 km
1. Glen Mitchell (Telekom Malaysia All Stars) 3:57:20
2. Trent Klasna (Saturn) s.t.
3. Gord Fraser (Mercury) at 0:07
4. Rene Haselbacher (Gerolsteiner)
5. Antonio Cruz (Saturn)
6. Guido Trenti (Cantina Tollo)
7. Serguei Ivanov (Farm Frites)
8. Graeme Miller (Telekom Malaysia All Stars)
9. Giancarlo Raimondi (Liquigas)
10. Oleg Pankov (Collstrop)
27. Mark Walters (Canada) all s.t.
53. Paul Kelly (Canada) at 0:37
57. Eric Wohlberg (Canada)
61. Dominique Perras (Phonak)
66. Peter Wedge (Canada) all s.t.
44. Michael Barry (Saturn) 6:18
97. Sylvain Beauchamp (Canada) 8:02
133. Matt Anand (Canada) 18:52
1. Walters 14:55:30
2. Floyd Landis (Mercury) at 0:18
3. Klasna 0:23
4. Chris Wherry (Saturn) 0:33
5. Lennie Kristensen (Denmark) 0:40
7. Haselbacher 0:42
8. Bjornar vestol (Linda McCartney) 0:51
9. Graziano Recinella (Mobilvetta Design) 0:57
10. Antonio Cruz (Saturn) 0:59
25. Wohlberg 3:07
26. Kelly 3:11
48. Barry 11:59
50. Perras 13:48
53. Fraser 15:39
65. Wedge 20:34
74. Beauchamp 24:15
101 Anand 35:40
1. Saturn 44:47:44
2. Mercury at 0:37
3. Gerolsteiner 2:00
7. Canada 5:08
1. Fraser 51 points
2. Haselbacher 46
Daniele Contrini (Liquigas) 36
4. Walters 34
1. Kristensen 43 points
2. Perez 41
3. Walters 34
28. Wohlberg 1
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