Tour de Langkawi: Francesco Chicchi takes final stage as Julian Arredondo wins
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Saturday, March 02, 2013

Tour de Langkawi: Francesco Chicchi takes final stage as Julian Arredondo wins

by Ben Atkins at 3:27 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour de Langkawi
 
Vini Fantini-Selle Italia steals blue jersey in fast, furious, seaside circuit

francesco chicchiFrancesco Chicchi (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia) joined the group of riders to have taken two wins in the 2013 Tour de Langkawi, as he sprinted to victory in the tenth and final stage between Tasik Kenyir and Kuala Terengganu. The Italian sprinter was led into the finishing straight by his giallo flou team, then made a heart shape with his fingers as he crossed the line in first place.

In second place behind Chicchi, Ricco Rogers (Synergy-Baku) took his best result of the race, with former Langkawi stage record holder Graeme Brown (Blanco) taking his own 2013 best in third.

“I’m very happy to be here,” said Chicchi after the stage. “For me and my team, we arrived here wanting to win one stage. We pulled all day for the win, and we won two stages and the blue jersey; we are very happy.

Chicchi’s second stage victory came as a member of the team that had led Andrea Guardini to eleven stage victories in the previous two editions of the race. Even though he had essentially replaced the younger rider as Guardini moved to the Astana team, Chicchi felt no pressure.

“We were here with our own goal, and this team has worked a lot for me,” he said. “Guardini was used to winning a lot of stages here, but this year there were a lot of sprinters like Theo Bos [Blanco], myself - great sprinters from big ProTeams - and we are just happy with what we have achieved here.

“I always begin strongly, every season,” Chicchi explained. “This year it’s different because I’m in a team where I am considered one of the leaders. This is not a ProTour team, but it’s a team where we are united, and friends, and our friendship makes it a great team, even if we are not in the WorldTour.”

Victory on the stage was enough for the 32-year-old Italian to take the blue points jersey from the shoulders of Guardini. The Astana rider had been suffering from the same bug that had seen a number of riders abandon the race, but had struggled on, although he had not been able to compete in the final two stages.

“What can I do?” Chicchi said. “I feel sorry for Andrea, but I came here with the goal of winning the points classification, and I got it.

“I’ve been lucky once in ten years,” he concluded.

Race leader Julian Arredondo (Nippo-De Rosa) was happy to let the sprinters fight it out in front of him, and crossed the line comfortably in the peloton to be crowned the winner of the Tour de Langkawi overall.

The 114.8km final stage, which ended with six laps of an 8.1km circuit, saw a six-man break from Diego Rosa (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), Meron Russom (MTN-Qhubeka), Shahrul Mat Amin (Terengganu), Loh Sea Keong. (OCBC Singapore), Yasuhari Nakajima (Aisan) and Rauf Nur Misbah (Malaysia). The group was allowed a maximum lead of two minutes on the approach to Kuala Terengganu but, as they hit the finishing circuit, Rosa set out alone.

The Italian rider was able to extend his advantage to 2’43” before he was steadily reeled back in on the six laps of the stage’s fast finishing circuit. Accelerations from Chicchi’s Vini Fantini-Selle Italia team, and the Europcar team of double stage winner Bryan Coquard, saw Rosa quickly caught, however.

The laps saw a battle for points and bonus seconds, with visibly sick blue jersey incumbent Guardini defending his lead in the points classification, and Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) fighting for time, but the peloton was all together into the final lap, and heading for a sprint.

More reactions to follow

The break goes early but doesn’t go far

Russom, Sharul, Loh, Nakajima and Rauf jumped away as soon as the flag was dropped at the end of the neutral section; when they were 28 seconds clear at the six kilometre point, Rosa jumped across the gap to take the break’s number up to six.

Vini Fantini-Selle Italia took up station at the head of the peloton and, after allowing the escapees to get two minutes clear by the 33km point, pulled them back to just 1’44” and kept them there for some time.

As the leaders approached the outskirts of Kuala Terengganu Nakajima dropped out of the lead group, leaving just five riders ahead. As the peloton hit the same roads, which were exposed to a brisk crosswind, several teams accelerated and created echelons in the bunch. The peloton remained intact, however, but reduced the gap to the leaders to just 52 seconds.

Onto the finishing circuit, Rosa attacked and only Rauf was able to follow. Shortly after the crossing the finish line for the first time, however, the Malaysian was unable to hold onto the Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela rider’s wheel, and the Italian continued alone.

As the peloton reached the finishing circuit it relaxed and allowed the lone Italian’s lead to grow to 2’43” by the 60km point. The Europcar team of double stage-winner Bryan Coquard then too responsibility, with climber Pierre Rolland on the front, and started to bring Rosa back.

With four laps to go the gap to Rosa was down to 1’25”, as Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) broke away on the approach to the line, to try to take second place in the intermediate sprint. The Australian was shadowed by the Astana duo of Andrey Kashechkin and blue jersey Andrea Guardini, however; Guardini took the second place, but Haas took third, with one bonus second edging him closer to Wang Meiyin (Hengxiang) in fifth place overall.

Hengxiang swallows the break and the sprinters line themselves up

Wang’s Hengxiang team then took control, first pulling Haas back into the fold, and then continuing to work on the head of the peloton. Across the line with three laps to go, the Chinese team had slashed Rosa’s lead to just 29 seconds.

With his lead rapidly shrinking Rosa sat up, and was caught by the peloton with 23km to go.

Hengxiang left one rider at the head of the peloton, but the Chinese rider had the entire Europcar and Vini Fantini-Selle Italia team lined up behind him.

On the approach to the line the next time, the Hengxiang rider tried to keep the pace up to prevent anybody attacking for the third and final sprint but, into the final 500 metres, Kiril Pozdnyakov (Synergy-Baku) jumped away. Down the side of the road Peter Stetina was leading Garmin-Sharp teammate Haas in pursuit, however, and both crossed the line ahead of the Russian.

Rolland calmly led the bunch over the line a few seconds later; Haas had now closed the gap to Wang to just three seconds, but only had the stage finish to make any further gains.

At the bell it was Vini Fantini-Selle Italia in control again, but the Italian team was not anxious to start its lead out too soon and allowed Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela to take over into the final lap. The pace at the front allowed the peloton to bunch up, but was soon strung out again as it began to accelerate around the early corners.

Chicchi’s team then moved forward and delivered the Italian sprinter to his second victory of the 2013 race; with Guardini finishing out of the points in 22nd place, the blue jersey passed onto the shoulders of the Vini Fantini-Selle Italia rider.

Result stage 10
1. Francesco Chicchi (Ita) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
2. Rico Rogers (NZl) Synergy-Baku Cycling Project
3. Graeme Brown (Aus) Blanco Pro Cycling
4. Allan Davis (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
5. Andy Fenn (GBr) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
6. Anuar Manan (Mas) Synergy-Baku Cycling Project
7. Fabian Schnaidt (Ger) Champion System Pro Cycling
8. Omar Bertazzo (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela
9. Kazuhiro Mori (Jpn) Aisan Racing Team
10. Harrif Salleh (Mas) Terengganu Cycling Team

Final overall standings
1. Julian Arredondo (Col) Team Nippo-De Rosa
2. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge @ 1’15”
3. Sergio Pardilla (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka @ 2’10”
4. Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp @ 2’30”
5. Wang Meiyin (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team @ 2’40”
6. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp @ 2’43”
7. Fortunato Baliani (Ita) Team Nippo-De Rosa @ 2’49”
8. John Ebsen (Den) Synergy-Baku Cycling Project @ 2’55”
9. Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) MTN-Qhubeka @ 2’58”
10. Amir Kolahdozhagh (Iri) Tabriz Petrochemical Team

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