Posted by Editoress on 02/13/04
Luciano Pagliarini (Lampre) has chalked up his second consecutive stage victory at the Tour de Langkawi today. Gord Fraser finished fourth and Charles Dionne 11th. The stage had no effect on the overall standings, with Marlon Perez (Colombia-Selle Italia) holding onto the yellow jersey by 36 seconds over Hector Guerra Garcia (Relax Bodysol). Eric Wohlberg is still 14th overall, 2:28 back, and Roland Green is 15th at 2:49.
The 96 kilometre eighth stage is the shortest road stage of the Tour and, with everyone looking to the Genting Highlands stage tomorrow, it was expected to be a relatively quiet day. Despite some early breakaway efforts, the peloton remained together until kilometre 24, when a group of eight went clear, including Dominique Perras and Climbers Jersey wearer Ruber Marin (Colombia-Selle Italia). They were caught 6 kilometres later, just before the second HotSpot sprint of the day. Immediately after the sprint, two riders went clear - Peter Wedge and Mike Sayers (Health Net). They were joined seven kilometres later by Jianshi Luo (China), and the gap began to grow. Wedge was highest on GC, but was over 20 minutes down, so there was not a lot of concern by Selle Italia.
With 50 kilometres remaining in the stage the gap was up to two minutes, but Palmans-Collstrop came to front and began to reel in the break. Sayers sat up first, and ten kilometres later (40 to go), the peloton was all together. Another group tried with 25 kilometres remaining, but the sprinters were having none of it, and they were quickly brought back.
The finish was a slight uphill sprint, so it was hard for one team to control things for long. Health Net set up early for Gord Fraser, but were swamped in the final kilometre by Ceramiche Panaria and Formaggi Pinzolo Piave, setting up for Graeme Brown and Ivan Quaranta respectively.
After this, things got messy, with Brown and Quaranta bumping each other at least four times in the final 500 metres. Brown in particular was doing his trademark weaving around, but Pagliarini and Enrico Degano (Barloworld) were able to get through, and it took a bike throw by the Brazilian rider to secure the win.
"It really was a rough and tumble last few kilometres today," said Fraser. "Nobody was giving an inch and my lead-out team got swamped by Ivan Quaranta and his boys. We went early and it is hard to time it on a hill, but this is training for us and eventually we will get it just right. Quaranta and Brown were bouncing off each other four or five times. It was a very physical sprint - perhaps a bit too much so. It's important to win but thereÃ¢â‚¬Å¡s no call for head butting! I tried to get on Pagliarini's wheel, but couldn't get by Brown. Anyway, Luciano was very impressive and I didn't have the legs today. Again he timed it just right ... brilliant."
Pagliarini's joy showed when he delighted the huge crowd by doing a celebratory wheelie all the way down the finishing straight on the way back for the prize presentation.
"My boys rode very hard for me all the day," he said, "Again I had to do all for myself in the last kilometre but that was fine because I had chosen the right wheel. Yes, it was a but rough but all sprints are scary - it goes with the territory."
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