Tour de Langkawi: Victory is all too easy for The Bos on stage one
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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tour de Langkawi: Victory is all too easy for The Bos on stage one

by Ben Atkins at 2:57 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour de Langkawi
 
Dutch sprinter leaves the rest behind to take the first yellow jersey of the race

theo bosTheo Bos (Blanco) made his second win of the 2013 season all too easy as he cruised to victory at the end of the opening stage of le Tour de Langkawi, between Kangar and Kulim. The Dutch former track World champion was launched out of the final corner, with 400 metres to go, by lead out man Graeme Brown, and was already several lengths clear by the time he opened up his sprint. Bos had time to look over his shoulder to check out the battle for second place behind him, before raising both arms in the air as he crossed the line.

Behind Bos, 20-year-old French track specialist Bryan Coquard (Europcar) just managed to overcome Langkawi record holder Andrea Guardini (Astana) in the race for second place.

“I was a bit surprised that it went this way,” said Bos after the stage. “I knew it was going to be difficult in the final with so many good sprinters.

“I think on paper we have a really good team for the sprints,” the Dutchman explained, “and the guys helped me out well. I think this was a big advantage for me, compared to the other guys. With Brownie there’s a lot of experience, and he did a good job for me in the last two corners, and I think there we won the race.

“It’s always hard to say we expect, but I never expected that we would win easy,” he added. “So we always have a lot of respect for our opponents.”

The 162.7km stage was characterised by a three-man breakaway from Junrong Ho (OCBC Singapore), Shinichi Fukushima (Nippo-De Rosa) and Wang Meiyin (Hengxiang). The trio escaped after just two kilometres and managed to build a maximum advantage of 10’40” in the first half of the course, before being steadily reeled in by the teams of the sprinters.

The break was caught with just ten kilometres to go, and the pace was kept high to prevent further attacks; Bos was led out by his team and took what turned out to be an easy victory.

In recent years, the winner of the first stage of le Tour de Langkawi has gone on to win several, with Bos looking set to become the latest dominant sprinter in the Malaysian race.

“Brownie won a lot of stages, and Andrea [Guardini] also,” Bos smiled. “I don’t know what the competition was last year, but hopefully I can repeat this tradition.”

A ten-second time bonus on the line for Bos meant that the Dutchman took the first yellow jersey of the race. He leads best Asian rider Wang by just a single second, however, after the Chinese rider took a total of nine seconds at the stage’s three intermediate sprints.

“It’s really cool,” said Bos of his new yellow jersey. “It’s my second this year - in Algarve I was allowed to wear it also - and it always gives you a good feeling in the race.”

The break goes early and long, and takes some pulling back

Ho, Fukushima and Wang jumped clear in the second kilometre and, with no reaction whatsoever from the peloton, the trio had already built a lead of 7’50”. By kilometre 28 this lead had grown to 10’40” before the Blanco team, with help from Vini Fantini-Selle Italia and Astana, came forward to start the chase.

“We knew we had a winner in Theo, so you have to take control,” Bos’ Blanco leadout man Brown explained to VeloNation after the stage. “We did have a lot of support form the other teams.”

Wang took the first intermediate sprint, in Jitra after 32km, ahead of Fukushima and Ho, and the three riders were holding their advantage over the chasing peloton. At the 40km point the gap was still 10’40”, but gradually began to fall on the approach to the second sprint, in Alor Setar after 51km.

“It was looking a bit hairy there for a minute, when it was eleven minutes, and wasn’t coming down very quick” Brown explained. “It was pretty hot out there today, so pretty well done to the team.

“Excellent actually!” he added.

Wang took the second sprint, ahead of Fukushima and Ho once again, but - as Blanco, Vini Fantini-Selle Italia, and Astana continued to share the chasing - the trio’s advantage was down to 9’40” at the 58km point. Wang was first again at the third sprint, in Guar Cempedak after 81km, with Ho beating Fukushima this time, but - with Orica-GreenEdge and several other teams joining the chase - the gap had fallen considerably at this point.

The break is finally caught and Blanco delivers Bos on a plate

Over the top of the one climb of the day, at Bukit Selambau with 46km to go, Wang was the fastest once again, with Ho getting to the line ahead of Fukushima again. Just 15km later, with 31km to go, the peloton was within a minute of the three leaders, and their catch was surely now inevitable.

The peloton was in no hurry to close the last minute to the three fugitives, however, so as to avoid a counterattack from fresher riders; despite having the break in sight for several kilometres, it was not until ten to go that it was finally closed down. After an exchange of control at the front of the peloton, Blanco took over in the final kilometres, with Brown leading Bos into the finale.

The peloton, with Brown at its head, made it safely around the two 90-degree turns at 500 metres and 400 metres to go, and the Australian pulled his Dutch teammate clear into the final straight.

“I took Theo into the last two corners,” Brown explained, “and when we got around the corner he already had a gap, so he went early.”

Once clear, Bos had the luxury of being able to look over his shoulder to check on his rivals, before cruising across the line to victory. With sprinters often taking multiple stages at le Tour de Langkawi, the manner of Bos’ victory made his matching Guardini’s six-stage haul of the previous year look even more likely.

“Anything’s possible,” said Brown. “We’ve only six riders in the team and you’ve got to control it. If he starts winning five stages nobody’s going to help us, so some days we migh just have to let the group go.”

Result stage 1
1. Theo Bos (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling
2. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar
3. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Team Astana
4. Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp
5. Jacob Keough (USA) UnitedHealthcare Procycling
6. Aldo Ino Ilesic (Slo) UnitedHealthcare Procycling
7. Anuar Manan (Mas) Synergy-Baku Cycling Project
8. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
9. Hossein Nateghi (Iri) Tabriz Petrochemical Team
10. Mauro Richeze (Arg) Team Nippo-De Rosa

Standings after stage 1
1. Theo Bos (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling
2. Wang Meiyin (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team @ 1s
3. Bryan Coquard (Fra) Team Europcar @ 4s
4. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Team Astana @ 6s
5. Junrong Ho (Sin) OCBC Singapore
6. Steele Von Hoff (Aus) Garmin-Sharp @ 10s
7. Jacob Keough (USA) UnitedHealthcare Procycling
8. Aldo Ino Ilesic (Slo) UnitedHealthcare Procycling
9. Anuar Manan (Mas) Synergy-Baku Cycling Project
10. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia

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