Posted by Editor on 02/17/01
Paolo Bettini (Mapei-Quick Step) became the fourth rider to win two stages in the 2001 Tour de Langkawi, consolidating his lead in the green jersey points competition, while his team mate Paolo Lanfranchi easily finished in the pack, protecting his yellow jersey.
The 162.9 kilometre penultimate 11th stage began in downtown Kuala Lumpur, in the shadow of the Tour's title sponsor - Telekom Malaysia. After a neutralized run to the outskirts of the city the peloton made a large loop to the north of Kuala Lumpur before heading to Shah Alam for five laps of a 7.6 kilometre circuit over portions of the time trial course the riders had ridden yesterday.
Attacks began from the gun, but Mapei was clearly in control, pouncing on anything that look remotely dangerous. A break of 6 riders did get away at the 62 kilometre mark and was allowed to gain 3 minutes before Mapei, Credit Agricole and AG2R went to the front and began pulling them back.
As the race entered the finishing circuit the breakaway gap was a mere 19 seconds, and the riders were looking over their shoulders. Shortly after they were caught on the third lap, Mark Walters (Team Canada) took a flyer and gained 16 seconds.
"I had to give it a shot" said Walters, who wore the yellow jersey in the 2000 Tour de Langkawi for 2 days. "I attacked on a straightaway just after another break had come back."
However, he was unsuccessful, as Mapei and Mercury organized a chase and brought him back with one lap remaining.
Rain was falling on portions of the circuit, and the peloton was cautious, with no one wanting to go down this late in the race. The riders faced an uphill sprint in the final 300 metres, and Bettini latched onto Graeme Miller's (Telekom Malaysia) wheel before coming around the New Zealander with 200 metres to go to take the stage over Andris Nauduzs (Selle Italia-Pacific) and Miller.
Bettini was gracious in his victory: "I benefited from the fact that unfortunately the sprinters are not here anymore (the top sprinters were all eliminated in the Genting mountain stage two days earlier when they missed the time cut). My team spent the whole day controlling the race for me, so it was not so hard at the end when i was fresh."
Tomorrow Bettini will have a chance to become the first triple stage winner of the 2001 Tour when the peloton rides the final stage; a 12 lap criterium in downtown Kuala Lumpur.
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