Hondo marks comeback from dope ban in stunning fashion
BATU PAHAT: Veteran Danilo Hondo marked his return from a two-year doping ban in style by winning Stage Four of the Tour of Langkawi (LTdL) here yesterday.
The Serramenti PVC rider – who previously rode for team T-Mobile and Tinkoff Credit Systems – was overjoyed with his feat, clocking 3’39:53 to end the 169km Port Dickson-Batu Pahat race in pole position.
“Today (yesterday) I felt good … I knew there was a possibility of winning,” said the 34-year-old German, who took a 22-second advantage over the rest of the riders at the 68km mark.
“I tried to break away a few times during the early parts of the race but I was caught up by the other riders.
“In fact, I am an opportunist and I have a different style of racing technique (compared to defending champion Alberto Loddo),” said Hondo.
Italy’s Loddo, said Hondo, was noted for his surges at the end of races.
Mauro Abel Richeze of Group-Navigare and Marco Corsini of Medical-OTC came in second and third respectively while Loddo, who won five stages last year, could only manage ninth spot.
The race began in Port Dickson with Simon Clarke of SouthAustralia.Com and Stuart Shaw of Drapac Porsche setting the early pace before being reeled in at the 30km mark.
The riders headed towards the first sprint in Masjid Tanah and New Zealand’s Jeremy Yates came up triumphant.
Then came the first real breakaway, with 37 riders forging ahead.
Hondo pressed on and surged further ahead at the 68km mark and held a 22-second lead.
He was closely followed by Jackson Rodriguez (Serramenti PVC), Park Sung-baek (Seoul Cycling), Mitchell Docker (Drapac Porsche) and Stage Three winner Lee Won-jae (Seoul Cycling).
The riders went on the offensive at the second sprint in Melaka Raya, with David Garcia (Karpin Galicia) winning it.
David George of South Africa took the third sprint in Muar.
That set up an exciting massed sprint finish for the first time in the Tour this year.
Overall leader Matthieu Sprick of Bouygues Telecom saw his lead cut to just one second by Mitchell Docker of Drapac Porsche after suffering two punctures yesterday.
“It is not easy to break away when you are in the yellow. We had to play it safe and keep our strength for the second last stage (for the climb up Genting Highlands),” said Sprick.
Malaysia’s Anuar Manan retains the sprinter’s green jersey although his lead has been cut to just two points. Aurlien Clerc of Bouygues Telecom trails him with 30 points.
“I’m proud and happy to retain this jersey for two stages but it will be very hard tomorrow because all the big names like Aurlien Clerc have started to amass points,” he said