February 4, 2005 – The much-anticipated eighth stage of the Tour de Langkawi ran today, with 129 starters left in the race, and the notorious ascent to Genting Highlands waiting. The 98 km stage starts mellow with 65 km of relatively flat roads, featuring three hot sprints, before turning upward for the 30 km climb to Malaysia’s “Vegas meets Disneyland on the Mountain” resort in Genting.
The first attack by Action’s Dennis Kraft came at 15km, and with the first sprint setting up at 23km, Landbouwkredit-Colnago’s Nico Sijmen’s jumped across and went straight by, putting a 20″ gap into the German. They crossed the first sprint in that position before Kraft was joined by Sijmen’s team-mate VanLandschoot, and the Malaysian Proton squad’s Wan Mohd. Columbia Selle Italia took up position on the front, and rolled a steady tempo as the lead groups chased each other about 1’ 30″ ahead. As the climb approached, the pace picked up and the field was single file when they hit the “˜Start KOM’ sign”¦only 30km to go.
For the first 15km of the climb, the pitch was gradual, and most of the action was at the back, with Selle Italia, and to a lesser extent, Barloworld keeping the pace. As the lead group hit the access road and the gradient increased, the field began to come apart in a hurry. With 14km to go, the “sprinter’s group” was already forming at the back, and the speed was increasing at front. Credit Agricole’s Eric Leblacher attacked and went clear, and Selle Italia’s Scarselli was leading the charge. Less than 20 remained in the lead peloton, including Navigators Insurance’s Cesar Grajales and Nathan O’Neill, Discovery Channel’s Danielson and Barry, Barloworld’s Cox and Kannemeyer, three Credit Agricole lads, Marlon Perez, Arango Scarselli, and race favorite Jose Rujano from Selle Italia, Liberty’s Hernandez and Ribeiro, and Panaria’s Perez Cuapio and Baliani. As the leaders brought Leblacher back, Liberty Seguros’ Hernandez attacked, and Baliani countered to bridge, and with Marlon Perez pulling the remains of the lead group, his team-mate Rujano launched a violent attack from the rear of the group. He attacked with blistering speed, and Cox dug to tag his wheel. The lead group blew apart as five riders went clear. The two attackers joined Hernandez, towing Perez Cuapio, and Kannemeyer as they put a slight advantage on Grajales, who remained calm, and settled into his rhythm. As the climb hit grades of nearly 20%, Rujano kept the pressure on, and broke the lead group, with only Cox able to respond. Rujano raced up the undulating climb with Cox in tow, as the chasers pursued. Grajales closed the gap on the three chasers, but could not quite make contact before Perez Cuapio gave a surge, and Kannemeyer followed. Hernandez was on his own now, with Grajales still closing.
Multiple attacks by Rujano could not shake Cox, who only had to stay with the South American to assume the leader’s jersey, and the two went to the line together, with Cox getting the victory. Perez Cuapio led Kannemeyer 1’05″ back, and Grajales followed in fifth, another 16″ down. Grajales moved into fourth overall, with two days of racing remaining.
1. Ryan Cox (Barloworld)
2. Jose Rujano (Colombia Selle Italia)
3. Perez Cuapio (Panaria)
1. Ryan Cox (Barloworld)
2. Jose Rujano (Colombia Selle Italia) @ :18
3. Tiaan Kannemeyer (Barloworld) @ 1:34
4. Cesar Grajales (Navigators Insurance) @ 2:52