Alberto Loddo’s run in the Tour de Langkawi was stopped today by Japanese rider Shinichi Fukushima,
PIC BY LE TOUR DE LANGKAWI Shinichi Fukushima proved that persistence and hard work are the key to success when he became the first Asian to win a stage in the Le Tour de Langkawi, following a fabulous 174km ride from Kuantan to Karak. The win for the rider from the Nippo-Meitan Hompo team was only the third stage victory for an Asian rider in the 12 year history of the tour, following wins by Kam Po Wong in 2000 and Koji – the younger brother of Shinichi – Fukushima in 2005. Apart from taking the stage win, Shinichi has also overtaken the blue jersey for the best Asian rider from Hossein Askari as well as moving up to second spot in the general classification behind current leader Anthony Charteau from Credit Agricole. “I am very satisfied with the win today because I felt excellent at the start, and when the rider from Tinkoff (Elia Aggiano) gave an indication of an early breakaway we went for it,” said Fukushima. “We tried to escape yesterday but were caught. But today, I tried harder and even though the others gave up in the closing stages, I pushed and pushed to make sure that I win the race today.” On being told that he has moved up to second spot in the GC, Fukushima responded: “Really? I didn’t know that. So tomorrow I must climb harder than I’ve ever done before.” An early breakaway just four minutes after the start saw multiple stage-winner Alberto Loddo, Francesco Tomei, Loh Sea Keong, Lee Won-Jae and Shinichi Fukushima among the front group. They were soon joined by Elia Aggiano, Johannes Kachelhoffer, Pierre Drancourt and Yoshiyuki Abe, opening up a five minute lead just before the town of Maran and then more than seven minutes just after Kampung Kawah. With less than 50km to go to the finish, the breakaway group was still in front, with a few Credit Agricole riders in the peloton controlling the gap. A second attack from Shinichi and Won-Jae saw a battle forming up front with Loddo joining in the fray, but in the end he could not stop the inevitable as Shinichi throttled up for the win – just two seconds ahead of Aggiano – to a rapturous applause from the Karak citizens. “I just did not have the energy for the last kilometre and I’m really disappointed that I did not win today. But I’m glad that we have at least managed to keep the green jersey,” said Loddo. “I suppose with the climb up Genting coming up tomorrow, the climbers in my team have to reserve their energy for it.” Current tour leader Charteau said that he will be out to make sure that he does not disappoint his team up Genting. “I have a good lead (over three minutes), so I suppose I will just have to climb hard tomorrow,” said Charteau. “The team has done a super job so I will not allow myself to disappoint them.” Stage 7 results 1 Shinichi Fukushima (Jpn, Nippo-Meitan Hompo) 3:47:42 2 Elia Aggiano (Ita, Tinkoff Credit Systems) 0:00:02 3 Pierre Drancourt (Fra, Bouygues Telecom) 0:00:12 4 Francesco Tomei (Ita, Ceramiche Panaria Navigare) 0:00:40 5 Erwin Thijs (Bel, Unibet.com) 6 Won Jae Lee (Kor, Korea National Team) 0:00:42 7 Sea Keong Loh (Mas, Discovery Channel Marco Polo) 0:01:09 8 Yoshiyuki Abe (Jpn, Skil Shimano) 0:01:22 9 Alberto Loddo (Ita, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia) 10 Johannes Kachelhoffer (RSA, South Africa) General classification after stage 7 1 Anthony Charteau (Fra, Crdit Agricole) 24:13:12 2 Shinichi Fukushima (Jpn, Nippo-Meitan Hompo) 0:03:27 3 Walter Pedraza (Col, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia) 0:04:00 4 Thomas Voeckler (Fra, Bouygues Telecom) 0:04:39 5 Luis Pasamontes (Spa, Unibet.com) 0:04:43 6 Ian McLeod (RSA, Franaise des Jeux) 7 Pavel Brutt (Rus, Tinkoff Credit Systems) 8 Julien Loubet (Fra, AG2R Prvoyance) 9 Benot Poilvet (Fra, Crdit Agricole) 10 Sergey Kolesnikov (Rus, Unibet.com) 0:04:45 Official website: www.ltdl.com.my Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.