BATU PAHAT (12 Feb, 2008) – Veteran Danilo Hondo delivered a superb sprint finish into Batu Pahat as he stormed ahead of the battling pack that included five-time stage winner Alberto Loddo at the end of Stage Four of Le Tour de Langkawi 2008 which began in Port Dickson this morning.

Le Tour de Langkawi 2008 - Danilo Hondo wins Stage 4

The Serramenti PVC rider, who had previously ridden for team T-Mobile and Tinkoff Credit Systems, was absolutely thrilled today as winning the stage had capped a return to form for the controversial cyclist. Although it was never conclusively proven to have used banned substances, Hondo was banned for two years in 2005-2006.

“Today I felt in good condition and realized there was a possibility to win,” said the 34-year-old. “I tried to break away a few times and in the middle of the race, at one point I almost came away but was caught. I am a different sort of sprinter (from Alberto Loddo) where I do not always wait at the end for the possibility.”

Simon Clarke (SouthAustralia.Com) and Stuart Shaw (Drapac Porsche) were the early escapees but were caught at the 30km mark while Jorg Lehmann (Team Ista) fared a little better before being hauled in prior to the first sprint in Masjid Tanah which was won by Jeremy Yates (New Zealand).

The first real breakaway occurred after the first sprint with 37 riders racing ahead. Hondo pressed on and surged further ahead at the 68km mark and held 22-second lead.

He was closely followed by Jackson Rodriguez (Serramenti PVC), Park Sung Baek (Seoul Cycling), Mitchell Docker (Drapac Porsche) and yesterday’s stage winner Lee Won Jae (Seoul Cycling).

Team Islamic Azad University did the chasing to reduce the advantage to under 40-seconds and it was not long before the front riders were reeled in.

A second attack occurred at the 95km mark before being brought under control just before the Second Sprint in Melaka Raya which was won by David Garcia (Karpin Galicia). David George (South Africa) took the Third Sprint in Muar.

George, Francesco Tomei (CSF Navigare), Enrico Rossi (NGC Medical) and Clarke went in front for a 1:36 minute lead before the peloton caught them with 15km to go to set up a bunch finish for the first time in the tour this year.

“It is not easy to do a break away when you are in the yellow,” added Matthiue Sprick of Bouygues Telecom, who suffered two punctures today. His lead has been slashed to just one second ahead of Docker from Drapac Porsche.

“We had to keep it safe and keep the strength for the second last stage (for the climb up Fraser’s.”

Malaysia’s Anuar Manan is still in the sprinter’s green jersey although his lead after the ride today has been cut to just two points – in front of Aurlien Clerc from Bouygues Telecom with 30 points.

“It was difficult for me to go to the front when at the 1km mark all the riders are together and with the road being narrow, the blockings only made it harder,” added Anuar.

“I am proud that I’m still in the green although tomorrow, we must try to do better.”
Completing the honours for the day was Shinichi Fukushima of the Meitan Hompo team who is still in the Blue Jersey for the best Asian rider.

STAGE FOUR RESULTS
1. Hondo, Danilo (Serramenti PVC) 3h39’53”
2. Richeze, Mauro Abel (CSF Group-Navigare) 3h39’53”
3. Corsini, Marco (NGC Medical – OTC) 3h39’53”
4. Clerc, Aurlien (Bouygues Telecom) 3h39’53”
5. Hoffman, Nolan (South African) 3h39’53”
6. Miyazawa, Takashi (Meitan Hompo) 3h39’53”
7. Kudentsov, Sergey (Trek Marco Polo) 3h39’53”
8. Hinault, Sebastien (Credit Agricole) 3h39’53”
9. Loddo, Alberto (Tinkoff Credit Systems) 3h39’53”
10. Park, Sung Baek (Seoul Cycling) 3h39’53”

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION

1. Sprick, Matthieu (Bouygues Telecom) 16h04’12”
2. Docker, Mitchell (Drapac Porsche) 16h04’13” @01″
3. Cesar, Gustavo (Karpin Galicia) 16h04’15”
4. Sulzberger, Bernard (Letua Cycling Team) 16h04’18”
5. Rodriguez, Jackson (Serramenti PVC) 16h04’19”
6. Wilson, Matt (Team Type 1)16h04’19”
7. Nosotti, Diego (NGC Medical – OTC) 16h04’19”
8. Yates, Jeremy (New Zealand) 16h04’20”
9. Fukushima, Shinichi (Meitan Hompo – GDR) 16h04’20”
10. Marino, Jean-Marc (Credit Agricole) 16h04’24”

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