Posted by Editoress on 02/7/04
Tour de Langkawi Stage 2
The Colombians have blown the race up on the second stage of the Tour de Langkawi, taking the top two spots and fourth place on the stage and GC. Roland Green was Canada's top finisher, but lost contact in the final couple of kilometres and ended up in 18th, 2:16 down on winner Marlon Perez (Colombia-Selle Italia). Eric Wohlberg came in 32nd and Charles Dionne 39th.
The stage began very aggressively, with attacks constantly, until a large group of 25 formed 34 kilometres into the stage. The peloton reacted quickly, and chased them down at 55 kilometres per hour. Just before they were caught at the 39 kilometre mark, 8 riders broke clear, including Gord Fraser (Health Net) and Perez. This seemed to be the right mix, and the group was allowed to motor away. The break reached a maximum time gap of six and a half minutes before the group began to reel them in. Fraser easily took the two Intermediate Sprints before the climb.
"It went to over 6 minutes, and then down to 5, but we started going harder and were able to hold it for quite a while." said Fraser. "I was just taking my turn covering attacks, and I happened to get a good one. I was able to steal a few points from the other sprinters, as well. I was hoping just to sit on, since I was no threat to anyone on the climb, but they weren't cutting me any slack. I managed to stay with them until 2 kilometres to go on the first KoM."
"We missed the move that got away" lamented Eric Wohlberg. "We were trying to make sure that we were in all the moves, but we missed this one, so we had to work a bit harder then we would have liked. Panaria was driving it, but we spent some time at the front too."
The group lost two riders before the base of the 56 kilometre climb to Tanah Rata, with the gap to the peloton down to 4:17. The time gap began to drop rapidly, and Hector Guerra Garcia (Relax Bodysol) attacked off the front of the lead group 5 kilometres into the climb. Garcia gained a minute on the chasers and held it for 20 kilometres before the chase group exploded under an attack by Perez. Perez was joined by Jurgen Van de Walle (Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdo) and Sean Sullivan (Team Barloworld), but dropped them and bridged up to Garcia just before the first KoM. He dropped Garcia shortly after and soloed in for the stage win and the leader's jersey.
Behind, the peloton was disintegrating on the climb. Green managed to stay with the lead chasers until the final five kilometres, when the group began surging.
"I just lost contact at the end. On the first attack I held on, then on the second attack I lost it. It is disappointing, but it is what I can expect - I haven't road raced since (the Tour of) Georgia last April. I don't think now that the overall is a strong possibility. My form's not there, not like last year. Part of the problem is that I don't have a single long training ride over 3 hours this year - the snow we have had a home really set me back."
Garcia ended up being caught by 10 riders in the last few kilometres, with Perez's team mate Freddy Gonzalez taking second, 47 seconds back. South African Ryan Cox (Team Barloworld) led a group in at 1:12, with another Colombian - Ruber Marin - in fourth. Dave Bruylandts (Chocolade Jacques) and Sergio Barbero (Lampre) were both in that group, but took the final corner at 300 metres too wide and crashed. They were out of luck for time, because the mountain top finish meant that they would not receive the same time as their group.
- Team Canada had a tough day - Peter Wedge is sick (it started during stage 1, and he had to get an IV for fluids last night. He managed to finish the day inside the time limit (4 riders didn't), and was feeling strong enough to try some food this evening.) Alexandre Lavallee had a spectacular launch over his handlebars in the feedzone after his feedbag got caught in his front wheel.
- The Relax Bodysol team car driver managed to flip his car on the climb, while following Garcia. It appears he was so busy watching his rider that he rode into the retaining wall and turned the vehicle over, crushing a spare bike on the roof of the car in the process.
- Scott Moninger (Health Net) went down hard in a crash at the bottom of the climb, and may have broken a rib.
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