Le Tour de Langkawi 2008 – Stage 1 – SPRICK SPRINGS SURPRISE WIN IN STAGE ONE

KUALA LUMPUR (9 Feb, 2008) – Frenchman Matthieu Sprick sprang a stunning surprise when he swept past the big names at the Le Tour de Langkawi 2008 to claim Stage One of Asia’s biggest road race from Alor Star to Kepala Batas here today.

LTdL 2008 Matthieu Sprick Stage 1
Picture by PhotoSport International

Despite the scorching heat, the Bouygues Telekom rider, who was part of a 19-rider breakaway group from 25km out of Alor Star, stepped up the pace two kilometers from the finish in Kepala Batas. The others, done in by the flat but grueling 182.6km long stage, failed to follow Sprick and finished almost three seconds behind.

Sprick sensationally crossed the line in 4 hours 10 minutes and 55 seconds while Aussie Mitchell Docker and Italian Diego Nosotti were second and third respectively.

“I am very satisfied with the first day of racing considering that it was my first race of the year. I hope this streak will continue,” said Sprick, who was awarded the prestigious leader’s yellow jersey.

LTdL 2008 Stage 1 podium
Picture by PhotoSport International

“I am very happy to be in Malaysia because I’ve heard a lot of good things about Le Tour de Langkawi and I must admit that I was very surprised with the quality of this event. I am especially with my form today. It will be hard to defend the Yellow Jersey tomorrow as there are a lot of good riders in this tour.”

Sprick’s shocking win this afternoon, will surely put the pressure on the likes of world-class sprinters Danilo Hondo (Serramenti PVC), Ruben Biongiorno (CSF Navigare) and last year’s five-stage winner Alberto Loddo (Tinkoff Credit Systems).

Shinichi Fukushima (Meitan Hompo GDR) was the catalyst in a three-man breakaway early at the start. They were soon followed by Jean-Marc Marino (Credit Agricole), Ruslan Ivanov (Serramenti PVC) and Jackson Rodriguez (Serramenti PVC) and the pack eventually grew to 19 riders which remained together to the end.

Along the way, Matt Wilson (Team Type 1) bagged the first two sprints while Shinichi the third. The third sprint win turned out to be crucial for it helped Shinichi, older brother of Koji, take the Asian riders’ Blue Jersey.

“I felt good at the beginning and attacked early,” added Shinichi. “I was not thinking of the Asian jersey although I must admit that now that the attention is on me, it will be hard to go for stage win.”

The last five kilometers saw team Tinkoff working hard before Sprick made it all his own with two kilometers left.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the race today – it is picturesque just like it is back home in Australia,” added Docker, who will start in the sprinter’s Green Jersey tomorrow in Stage 2 from Butterworth to Sitiawan. “I think tomorrow will be another aggressive day, so the focus will be on the Green Jersey for the moment.”

Meanwhile, the best placed Malaysian finisher was national team cyclist Mohd Rauf Nur Misbah who came in a creditable 20th overall.

Today’s start was attended by Minister of Youth and Sports, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said and Kedah Mentri Besar, Datuk Mahdzir Khalid while Perlis Mentri Besar, Datuk Seri Shahidan Kasim graced the first sprint in Kangar.

Stage 2 will be flagged off in Butterworth at 12.40 in the afternoon and will end 159.7km later in Sitiawan.

STAGE ONE RESULTS
1. Sprick, Matthieu (Bouygues Telecom) 4h10’55”
2. Docker, Mitchell (Drapac Porsche) 4h10’58”
3. Nosotti, Diego (NGC Medical) 4h10’58”
4. Yates,Jeremy (New Zealand) 4h10’58”
5. Dempster, Zakkari (SouthAustralia.Com) 4h10’58”
6. Ivanov, Ruslan (Serramenti PVC) 4h10’58”
7. Park, Sung Baek (Seoul Cycling) 4h10’58”
8. Cesar, Gustavo (Karpin Galicia) 4h10’58”
9. Sulzberger, Bernard (L2A Letua Cycling Team) 4h10’58”
10. Nodera, Hidenori (Skil – Shimano) 4h10’58”

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