Posted by Editor on 02/10/01
All it took was one little mistake in the race map, and Enrico Degano (Ceramiche Panaria) beat out powerhouses Mercury Viatel and Mapei-Quick Step in a bunch sprint to take his second stage of the Tour de Langkawi. Jans Koerts (Mercury Viatel) continues to hold the yellow jersey, although his lead over Degano has been cut to 18 seconds from 25.
Stage 5, from Pekan to Kota Tinggi, is the longest of the Tour at 241.1 kilometres, however, it was not slow, with a break of 5 going away at kilometre 17. This group stayed away for 195 kilometres, reaching a maximum lead of 11:09 before Mapei and Mercury decided that it was time to rein them in.
In the break was Michael Barry (Saturn), Walter Beneteau (Bonjour), Daniel Spence (South Africa), Massimo Strazzer (Mobilvetta) and Karl Pauwels (Collstrop-Palmans). "We went away right after another bigger break was caught. It was hard to tell whether or not we should keep going, but it was working so well and they (the peloton) weren't chasing."
The peloton was chasing, but it was a long effort before they began to make a dent in the lead the 5 riders had. However, eventually the breakaways were reeled in with less than 30 kilometres remaining in the stage, and everyone prepared for the fifth consecutive field sprint.
Everything was unfolding as usual - Mapei, Mercury and the other teams were setting up their sprinters, and as the race approached the last few kilometres speculation turned to who would get the best lead out. However, the map neglected to show a sharp S-curve about 1500 metres from the line, and this changed everything.
Degano described the effect of this deviation in the course: "I was on the left, but half the guys were on the right and they lost ground to us. I asked my team mate (Nathan) O'Neill to work at the front for me and at 300 metres I pulled the trigger." Degano's 'trigger' gave him time to sit up 25 metres from the line and blow kisses to the crowd.
- Ivan Quaranta (Alexia Alluminio), 3-time stage winner last year, went down in a crash 200 metres from the line when someone forced him into the barricades. Quaranta is still listed in fourth place on the general classification, but hurt his shoulder and is a doubtful starter for tomorrow.
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