Mar 4, 2012


4th March 2012, KUALA TERENGGANU - Needing simply finish safely in the main bunch to ensure his overall victory in the race, the Colombian rider José Serpa today did that, lifting the final trophy for the second time since 2009.

The Androni Giocattoli – Venezuela rider rolled across the line with his arms in the air, savouring a success that was forged through stage victories on day five to Pandan Indah and day six to Genting Highlands.

Serpa finished in the main bunch behind the stage winner Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini – Selle Italia), and ended the ten day race thirty seconds clear of his Androni Giocattoli – Venezuela team-mate Jose Rujano, who won the race in 2010.

Niño Victor Corredor (Azad University Iran) was one minute and three seconds back in third, while fourth-placed Alexandr Dyachenko was best Asian rider and helped his Astana squad to best Asian team.

“I am really happy to win the Tour de Langkawi,” Serpa said at the post-race press conference. “This is where I got my first stage victory in 2006 and now I have won the overall general classification of LTdL twice. It is very important for me and also my team. I want to thank them for all the work they have done for me. We are all very happy to bring this victory back home.”

The victory is the latest in a number of successes by a team managed by Gianni Savio. The Italian’s riders have won six times in all, and have become part of the race. They peak specifically for the event, racing and training in South America in order to be fully ready.

Like the Androni Giocattoli riders, Andrea Guardini also prepared for Malaysia by racing elsewhere. After riding well but missing out on wins in the Tour de San Luis, Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman, things really clicked for him in the Malaysian race. He took a record haul of eleven career stage victories, two more than the previous mark set by the Australian Graeme Brown.

Guardini’s Farnese Vini – Selle Italia team rode well for their leader, hauling back the day’s breakaways in order to ensure a big gallop. Astana captain Alexandre Vinokourov tried to clip away for the stage, but was reeled in before the final sprint.

There, Guardini beat Jacobe Keough (United Healthcare), Sonny Colbrelli (Colnago CSF Inox) plus the others to the line in Kuala Terengganu, also the finishing location for yesterday’s ninth stage.

Like last year, when he took his first professional wins in Malaysia, the race has been a big boost to his confidence. “It is incredible to have won so much, as before the Tour de Langkawi I didn’t win in San Luis, Qatar or Oman,” he said, referring to his previous races in 2012. “That was partly because of bad luck and partly because I had very strong opponents in the sprint.

“On my return to Malaysia, I found a way to succeed again. I’ve got used to it – every time we had a sprint, I won.”

The triumph ensured that he won the blue points jersey, moving well clear of closest rival Valentin Iglinskiy with his successful finishing sprint.

“It has been a very difficult day. We understood from the first kilometre that we would be the only team to have the responsibility for the race,” he said, explaining the work his squad did. “We kept the breakaway in sight. My four helpers have done such a great job that I want to name all of them; Balloni, Rabottini, Bertolini and Benenati.

“They have done a lot of efforts. It was very difficult because of the heat, but they took me the final sprint pretty much where I wanted to be.”

How it played out:

119 riders signed on for the final stage of the 2012 Tour de Langkawi, a 114.8 kilometre race from Tasik Kenyir to Kuala Terengganu. The weather was far sunnier and warmer than recent days, creating an at-times sweltering temperature.

There was a relaxed atmosphere at the start and when Misbah M. Rauf Nur (Malaysia) and Joon Yong Seo (Seoul) attacked right away, they were given some leeway. The duo had a gap of one minute six seconds after seven kilometres; eleven kilometres later, they were a full four minutes 18 seconds ahead of the bunch, with two riders – Shinichi Fukushima (Terengganu Cycling Team) and Sea Keong Loh (OCBC Singapore) - one minute behind and closing up.

The junction was made soon afterwards and with four riders out front, they set about building a strong lead. The gap was four minutes 25 seconds 33 kilometres after the start. This had fallen somewhat to three minutes 45 seconds at the first intermediate sprint, Padang Air (km 47.4), where Seo, Rauf, Loh and Fukushima crossed the line in that order.

Looking to help its rider take another stage, Guardini’s Farnese Vini – Selle Italia squad drove the pace in order to reduce the gap. It had the desired effect; by the time the break crossed the finish line for the first time, the leaders were less than two minutes ahead.

Two intermediate sprints followed, with the first coming on the second passage of the finish line and going to Fukushima. The second occurred to two laps later and there Loh was first.

The bunch was closing up fast and Fukushima plus Joon Yong Seo pushed on ahead in a bid to stay clear. Behind, Vinokourov attacked and got across to Seo; his Astana team-mate Dmitriy Gruzdev and Roman Van Uden (New Zealand) were also present and the four tried to hold off the chasers.

Unhappy with the pace-setting, Vinokuorov attacked alone and was clear heading in the final three kilometres. However he was caught very soon afterwards, making a bunch sprint inevitable. There Guardini showed his class once again, hitting the front inside the final 200 metres and reaching the line comfortably ahead of Keough and Colbrelli.

His success earned him the blue points jersey. Serpa took the mountains classification and his Androni Giocattoli – Venezuela squad was best team.

Asian category prizes went to Dyachenko (best rider) and Astana (best squad).

LTdL 2012 is organised by the National Sports Council as a mark of continuity to the organisation of the Ministry of Youth and Sports in 2010 and 2011 in collaboration with the Malaysian National Cycling Federation. The race maintains a 2.HC (Hors Classe) status and is recognised and sanctioned by the UCI and UCI Asia Tour.

Mar 3, 2012


3 March 2012, KUALA TERENGGANU - If yesterday saw him equal the record of nine stage wins in the Tour de Langkawi, today was the moment when Andrea Guardini moved clear of the rider who previously set that mark, Graeme Brown. The Italian sprinter was quickest in the big gallop into Kuala Terengganu, getting the better of Matteo Pelucchi (Team Europcar), Raymond Kreder (Garmin Barracuda), Jacobe Keough (UnitedHealthcare) and others.

The sprint was conducted by a smaller group than usual due to a big pileup inside the final three kilometres. Many riders were delayed, including race leader Jose Serpa (Androni Giocattoli – Venezuala), but a UCI rule pertaining to such incidents saw those riders given the same time as the winner Guardini.

“The Tour de Langkawi is very special to me as it was here where I took the first wins in my professional career,” said Guardini after the finish. “Because of that, it is great to get the record of ten stage wins. I thank my team for the perfect lead out for the stage today.”

Serpa was fortunate that the big crash happened when it did and not earlier; had it been outside the three kilometre mark, he would have lost time to some riders. That said, his main rivals Jose Rujano (Androni Giocattoli – Venezuala) and Victor Nino Corridor (Azad University) were also in the delayed group, and so the situation would not have been too dangerous.

A bigger moment of panic came earlier in the stage when the fourth-placed rider Alexandr Dyachenko (Astana) got clear in a break. The move was closed down by the bunch, but it was the biggest move by one of Serpa’s challengers since the Genting Highland stage.

Afterwards, Dyachenko said that he was thinking more of the points classification and his team-mate Valentin Iglinskiy’s attempts to beat Guardini there.

“I just tried to help the team and to help Valentin to break away,” he said. “This stage is meant for sprinting that is why it's very difficult to take the yellow jersey. Tomorrow's stage also very easy for sprinting because it is short and flat. That is why I will help the team sprinter, Valentin.”

However Iglinskiy suffered a setback today in that Guardini re-took the blue jersey of points leader. The two ended the day locked on points, but the Italian’s better stage placings gave him the edge. He recouped the points he was behind by finishing one place ahead of Iglinskiy in the first intermediate sprint, then placing first to his sixth in the final gallop.

“Before the first sprint, I saw the opportunity to get some points,” he said. “Without tiring my team, I got one point over Iglinskiy.”

He then didn’t have to sprint in the two remaining intermediate gallops as four riders broke clear and soaked up those points. They were Garmin Barracuda’s Nathan Haas, David McCann (RTS Racing Team), former race winner Anthony Charteau (Europcar) and Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (MTN Qhubeka). The quartet opened up a gap of over two minutes but were eventually reeled in with approximately four kilometres to go.

Serpa looking good for second overall victory:

Even though it is very unlikely that he will lose the race, the 2009 winner Serpa doesn’t want to tempt fate. As a result, he’s not prepared to say he’s the new champion. “We still have to wait until tomorrow to see whether we can win the yellow jersey,” he explained. “We don't know what will happen but we hope that we have a better opportunity.”

According to his team manager Gianni Savio, the likely victory is down to the sixth stage of the race. In fact, each of his overall triumphs have rotated around a big performance there by his riders.

“For us, it was in Genting when we have the possibility to win,” he said. “We have studied it and had a good strategy in Genting to attack. After Genting, when all stages are flat, we had to protect our yellow jersey winner and we hope to finish tomorrow's final stage as the overall champions.”

That last stage covers 114.8 kilometres from Tasik Kenyir to Kuala Terenggannu. It is devoid of any categorized climbs and a big gallop is once again the most likely outcome. Guardini will be excited by that, and could further extend his stage winning record.


Another overcast day awaited the riders at the start of the penultimate stage of Le Tour de Langkawi, with those clouds turning to heavy rain very soon after the start in Kemasik. Multiple attacks were fired off before the first intermediate sprint in Dungun, 38.9 kilometres after the start, but nothing remained clear for long.

The bunch contested that first sprint together and there Harrif Salleh was first, ahead of Jacobe Keough (UnitedHealthcare). The two riders battling for the points competition, Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini Selle Italia) and Valentin Iglinskiy (Astana), placed third and fourth there, with the Italian inching closer to taking back the blue jersey.

Repeated attacks followed, with Paolo Locatelli Colnago) and Louis Crosby (New Zealand) getting clear and being joined by Alexandr Dyachenko (Astana) and Thomas Bertolini (Farnese Vini – Selle Italia). However Dyachenko started the day fourth overall and the move was predictably chased down.

Another quartet tried at kilometre 88 and had more success. Garmin Barracuda’s Nathan Haas, David McCann (RTS Racing Team), former race winner Anthony Charteau (Europcar) and Reinardt Janse Van Rensburg (MTN Qhubeka) quickly gained time and built a lead of over two and a half minutes.

McCann was first in the sprint at Kg Pela (km 99.6), crossing the prime line ahead of Van Rensburg, Charteau and Haas, after which the breakaway continued and had clocked up an average speed of 51 kilometres per hour in two hours of racing.

The Irishman was again first to the line at Kuala Berang (km 118.7), with Charteau, Van Rensburg and Haas second third, and fourth. The finish was just over 45 kilometres away at that point and this prompted the peloton – specifically, the Drapac Cycling team – to chase.

With 40 kilometres left, the gap was down to one minute 29 seconds, and this fell by 22 seconds over the next ten kilometres.

The gap continued to fall and was just twelve seconds with seven kilometres remaining. Haas tried to jump clear after that point but everything came back together. A massive bunch sprint looked possible, but a big crash inside the final three kilometres meant that a much smaller group sprinted it out for the victory.

Raymond Kreder (Garmin Barracuda) preempted Guardini’s jump, hitting out early, but the Italian was too strong and came through to take win number five at this year’s race, and ten in all.

LTdL 2012 is organised by the National Sports Council as a mark of continuity to the organisation of the Ministry of Youth and Sports in 2010 and 2011 in collaboration with the Malaysian National Cycling Federation. The race maintains a 2.HC (Hors Classe) status and is recognised and sanctioned by the UCI and UCI Asia Tour.

Mar 2, 2012


2 March 2012, CHUKAI - Nipping out from his rivals’ wheels with an impressive acceleration, Andrea Guardini blasted to his fourth stage win in the 2012 Tour de Langkawi and equaled a long-standing record.

The Italian Farnese Vini – Selle Italia rider matched the nine career stage wins taken previously by Grame Brown. With two stages remaining in this year’s race, there’s every chance that he can move past that total.

“I took my fourth win today and I am happy with that,” he said after the stage. “Tomorrow I'll try to get one more. But now the strongest train is from UnitedHealthcare."

The latter team is trying to clock up a win in this year’s race and seemed to do things well in the finale today. However Guardini’s devastating burst of power put paid to that goal, and the determined local rider Salleh Harrif (Terengganu Cycling Team) also managed to edge past.

That left the American Jacobe Keough third, ahead of the Iranian Hossein Nateghi (Tabriz Petrochemical Team) plus the rest of the bunch.

“My second place win today is one of the most valuable experiences,” said Harrif. “Last year I was third, this year I am so much better and it's a great beginning for me to increase my performance in my career. If there is a chance I would like to win because I don't want to disappoint the fans in my town.

“The route tomorrow (stage 9) is near to my home and I know all the ins and outs."

The stage was marked by a long distance five-man move. It comprised Chin Lung Huang (RTS Racing Team), Shinichi Fukushima (Terengganu), Wijaya Endura (Indonesia National Team), Abbas Saeiditanha (Azad University) and Hao Liu (Max Success Sports).

The quintet did everything to try to stay clear but the peloton was determined to chase a sprint win and reeled them in.

The race leader remains the Colombian José Serpa (Androni Giocattoli – Venezuela), who holds a thirty seconds advantage over his team-mate Jose Rujano. He also holds the mountains classification in the race and with the last climb being crossed today, must simply finish the race to take that trophy.

In contrast, the battle for the blue points jersey is very much raging. Guardini lost the lead to Valentin Iglinskiy (Astana) yesterday but closed up to within six points of him today. Tomorrow’s and Sunday’s races are expected to come down to sprints and, if the Italian can show the same dominance, Iglinsky will find it hard to hang on.


Under slightly wet conditions, 119 riders signed on for today’s third-last stage of this year’s Tour de Langkawi. The 100.5 kilometre race from Pekan to Chukai was the shortest road stage of the ten-day 2.HC event, with Friday’s religious day prompting an earlier-than-usual start at 9am plus a curtailed distance.

Several riders were particularly psyched, including those from the Terengganu team which would be racing on home soil, plus Champion System’s Anuar Manan and Adiq Hussainie, both also from the region.

Manan had hoped to shine, but was suffering from a stomach bug and didn’t start at full strength.

There were repeated attacks after the drop of the flag, but nothing stuck until fifteen kilometres into the stage. At that point Chin Lung Huang (RTS Racing Team), Shinichi Fukushima (Terengganu), Wijaya Endura (Indonesia National Team) and Rusli Amir Mustafa (Malaysia) broke clear and began a bid to chase the stage victory.

They were joined almost immediately by Abbas Saeiditanha (Azad University) and Hao Liu (Max Success Sports), but the six man group dropped to five when Mustafa crashed out of the move.

The others continued to battle on and gradually grinded out a decent lead. After 40 kilometres they were one minute clear, then by the time Endra beat Liu and Huang to the top of the category four climb of Kuantan (km 47.7), they had added another twenty seconds onto that.

Just before that point, Liu took the intermediate sprint at kilometre 44.8. He also did likewise at Balok (km 58.9), edging out Huang in the first and Endra in the next.

With the riders in the second half of the stage, the pace of the bunch ramped up, thanks to Guardini’s Farnese Vini – Selle Italia team. This had the predicted effect on the break’s advantage, with the gap dropping to one minute six seconds with 26 kilometres to go, then just 38 seconds four kilometres later. However it increased again up to 50 seconds, after which Endra got dropped.

Fukushima beat Liu to take the final bonus sprint in Cherating (km81.7), after which the break’s advantage tipped the other way and began falling once more.

Sensing danger, Fukushima and Saeiditanha pushed onwards in an attempt to stave off the pursuit behind, but were hauled back inside the final ten kilometres. That paved the way for the big bunch sprint and, as things turned out, Guardini’s fourth win of the year’s race and ninth in total.

LTdL 2012 is organised by the National Sports Council as a mark of continuity to the organisation of the Ministry of Youth and Sports in 2010 and 2011 in collaboration with the Malaysian National Cycling Federation. The race maintains a 2.HC (Hors Classe) status and is recognised and sanctioned by the UCI and UCI Asia Tour.

Mar 1, 2012


1 March 2012, KUANTAN - Colnago CSF Inox rider Marco Canola powered to his first pro victory in style today, grabbing stage seven of Le Tour de Langkawi in Kuantan after infiltrating a long distance breakaway move.

The 23 old Italian went clear early on as part of a sixteen rider group. This was gradually whittled down to thirteen riders, then split inside the final three kilometres to a smaller subset of five stage contenders.

Canola said he made a small error in jumping too early, but was sufficiently strong and determined to hold on for the win. He beat Joon Yong Seo (Seoul Cycling), Serguy Klimov (RusVelo), Mathieu Clause (Europcar) and Floris Goesinnen (Drapac Cycling) to the line, with the reminder of the break finishing over ten seconds back.

“This victory gives me an enormous joy. It is difficult to describe how happy I am,” he said. “At the Tour of Calabria in Italy I did my first race as a professional before coming here; this is only my second race as a pro, and I have already managed to win a stage.

“This doesn’t have the value of a WorldTour race, but it will help me to make myself known. I hope to continue in this way.”

The 205.8 kilometre stage began in Bentong and was the longest of this year’s race. It got off to a lighting-fast start, with many riders trying to go clear. The day’s break went after approximately 50 kilometres and gradually gained sufficient advantage to hold on until the end.

The Androni Giocattoli team of race leader Jose Serpa led the pacesetting behind, ensuring that the gap between break and bunch didn’t threaten his lead. Joseph Cooper (New Zealand) was best placed in the break, having started the day 17th overall, six minutes 14 seconds back, and so there was no immediate threat to his yellow jersey.

“I don’t know about the others, but we have done our work.,” said Serpa at the post race press conference. “I have to thank my team for all the work done today…it was really impressive. The highest-ranked breakaway rider was at six minutes, so we kept the breakaway just two minutes ahead of us. That was out goal and we did it.”

He continues to maintain his thirty second lead over team-mate Jose Rujano heading into the final three days of the race.


After yesterday’s short but demanding stage to the top of Genting Highlands, the focus shifted today to opposing demands, with the longest and one of the flattest days awaiting the riders.

They would face 205.8 kilometres from Bentong to Kuantan. The route featured just one official climb, the category four ramp of Bukit Genting.

A total of 122 took the start, with one notable absentee; former race winner Tom Danielson had decided not to race due to a leg infection, which cropped up as a result of his crash last Sunday.

The first hour of racing was run off at a blisteringly-fast pace, with countless attacks. However while many breaks were started, none were able to stay clear for long. A total of 51 kilometres were covered in the first hour then, finally, the elastic snapped and sixteen riders got away.

Very soon afterwards they disputed the first of the day’s three intermediate sprints, that of Mentakab (km 57.7). There, Valentin Iglinskiy (Astana) hit the line first, ahead of Raymond Kreder (Garmin Barracuda), Hassan Suhardi (Malaysa) and Choon Huat Goh (OCBC Singapore).

The others present in the move were Marco Canola (Colnago CSF Inox), Serguy Klimov and Valery Valynin (Rusvelo), Mathieu Claude (Team Europcar), Yohann Gene (Europcar), Hassan Suzuki (Malaysia), Floris Goesinnen (Drapac Porsche), Adrien Niyonshuti and Jacques Janse van Rensburg (MTN Qhubeka), Joon Yong Seo (Seoul Cycling), Joseph Cooper (New Zealand) and Karl Menzies (United Healthcare).

The latter dropped back due to a puncture, leaving fifteen out front. Of those, Cooper was the highest placed, having started the day 17th overall, six minutes 14 seconds back. The fact that there was no immediate threat to the yellow jersey of José Serpa meant that the move was likely to get some extra space, and so it proved.

After hovering under a minute for a long time, the gap finally went up to one minute 45 seconds at kilometre 90. It continued to grow, and was over two minutes at the 100 kilometre mark. This increased to three minutes by the point of the second intermediate sprint, that at Maran (km 117.3), where Iglinskiy again beat Kreder, Suhardi and Goh.

By this time, the break was missing Suzuki, who had punctured out of the move.

The gap between the escape and the bunch hovered around that three minute mark for some time, but then increased to just over four minutes after the gallop at Gambang (km 164). Iglinskiy was once again quickest there, with Suhardi, Cooper and Van Rensburg playing supporting roles.

The three intermediate sprint victories moved him above the points haul amassed by Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini – Selle Italia). But, rather than panicking, the Italian team let others do the work in leading the bunch; it appeared that it had decided to wait until another day before burning up scarce energy.

With 20 kilometres remaining, the gap had dropped to three minutes. That didn’t leave sufficient time for the move to be reeled in, though, and so those up front realized that one of them would triumph.

Each fancied themselves to fill that role and as the line drew closer, they prepared for the attacks and counter attacks which would be fired off. Cooper wasn’t thinking along those lines, though, as he knew that a decent time gain would move him right up the general classification.

Instead, it was Canola who triumphed, jumping clear with Seo, Klimov, Claude and Goesinnen, then beating them in the final sprint to the line.

LTdL 2012 is organised by the National Sports Council as a mark of continuity to the organisation of the Ministry of Youth and Sports in 2010 and 2011 in collaboration with the Malaysian National Cycling Federation. The race maintains a 2.HC (Hors Classe) status and is recognised and sanctioned by the UCI and UCI Asia Tour.