PIC BY BRUNO BADE Jose Serpa (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia) made it back-to-back wins in the climb up Genting Highlands in stage eight of Le Tour de Langkawi. But like last year, it was still not enough to dislodge the Tour leader as Anthony Charteau maintained his hold on the yellow jersey. Last year, Serpa, who won in Genting, was denied the leadership of the general classification by David George. Today, Charteau came 10th in the stage to make sure that he is still in the leader’s yellow jersey going into stage nine tomorrow. “The strategy was to attack at the beginning and we almost made it too with the GC, but the tour leader defended well and I have to compliment him on that,” said the 27 year-old Serpa. “And even though we could not win the yellow jersey today, I’m still happy to win the stage for the second time in two years.” The hot and sunny conditions at the Proton Centre of Excellence in Shah Alam were just perfect for what was the start of the pivotal stage in this year’s race. An early attack by Sandy Casar from Franaise de Jeux proved futile as the peloton closed in to make sure that there were no premature escapees like yesterday. It was not until 20km into the race, after the Penchala Link, that four riders – Gene Bates (SouthAustralia.com), Tiaan Kannemeyer (South Africa), Jose Luis Arrieta (AG2R Prevoyance) and Sergey Matveyev (Ceramiche Panaria) – went in front to pick up the sprint points. Team Serramenti PVC then made its move when Fabio Duarte moved up to join the leaders. This caused Sylvain Calzati (AG2R), Jose Rujano (Unibet.com) and Walter Pedraza (Serramenti PVC) to give chase. The leading group broke apart on the final climb, with Rujano and Pedraza moving into the lead before they were joined by Serpa. A second group was formed by Charteau, Francesco Bellotti (Credit Agricole), Yoann Le Boulanger (Equipe Bouygues), Yokihiro Doi (Skil Shimano), Timothy Duggan (Team Slipstream), Jay Crawford (Giant AIS), Ghader Mizbani (Giant AIS), Hossein Askari (Giant AIS) and Sergey Kolesnikov (Unibet.com) with just a minute gap from the front group. Pedraza and Serpa then went their own way to the finish, which left Charteau under pressure having to come in within four minutes of Pedraza if he was to stand a chance of retaining the leader’s yellow jersey. He did it, finishing 10th at 3’36 behind Serpa. “I have to thank my teammates as today everything went according to plan, as we knew that the Selle boys would attack early,” said Charteau afterwards. “It will be a hard race tomorrow with several climbs, and I must say that over the last several days, I have thought long and hard on winning the Le Tour de Langkawi 2007, which will be my first win in a stage race.” With Serpa taking the stage, the day was not a total disappointment for second placed Pedraza, who overtook Charteau as the new leader of the king of the mountains classification. He will begin stage nine tomorrow from Putrajaya to Seremban in the red polka dot shirt. “We gave ourselves the possibility of a win and we came close to winning the yellow and the stage but it was not to be,” said Pedraza. In the meantime, Alberto Loddo maintained his hold of the sprinter’s green jersey while the fight for the blue for the best Asian rider changed hands again today when Ghader Mizbani (Giant Asia Racing Team) became the new leader. “It will be close in the fight for the best Asian rider but we will try hard to win the blue jersey,” said Mizbani, who had previously won the same title in 2004. Stage 8 results 1 Jose Serpa (Col, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia) 2:25:49 2 Walter Pedraza (Col, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia) 0:01:16 3 Jos Rujano (Ven, Unibet.com) 0:01:44 4 David George (RSA, South Africa) 0:02:25 5 Jay Crawford (Aus, Giant Asia Racing Team) 0:02:51 6 Ghader Mizbani (Irn, Giant Asia Racing Team) 0:03:00 7 Yoann Le Boulanger (Fra, Bouygues Telecom) 0:03:21 8 Francesco Bellotti (Ita, Crdit Agricole) 0:03:28 9 Yokihiro Doi (Jpn, Skil Shimano) 0:03:31 10 Anthony Charteau (Fra, Crdit Agricole) 0:03:36 General classification after stage 8 1 Anthony Charteau (Fra, Crdit Agricole) 26:42:37 2 Jose Serpa (Col, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia) 0:01:02 3 Walter Pedraza (Col, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Selle Italia) 0:01:34 4 David George (RSA, South Africa) 0:03:39 5 Jay Crawford (Aus, Giant Asia Racing Team) 0:04:05 6 Ghader Mizbani (Irn, Giant Asia Racing Team) 0:04:14 7 Yokihiro Doi (Jpn, Skil Shimano) 0:04:43 8 Hossein Askari (Irn, Giant Asia Racing Team) 0:04:54 9 Pavel Brutt (Rus, Tinkoff Credit Systems) 0:05:08 10 Yoann Le Boulanger (Fra, Bouygues Telecom) Official website: www.ltdl.com.my Got a comment? Discuss this in the Procycling forum. What else is new? Check out the Procycling blog.
Anthony Charteau had to fight hard to maintain the leader’s jersey against an assault by Serramenti