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Le Tour de Langkawi 2008 - Danilo Hondo Returns
By Staff
Date: 2/2/2008
Le Tour de Langkawi 2008 - Danilo Hondo Returns

Le Tour de Langkawi 2008 - Danilo Hondo Returns
Hondo stages his comeback  with Gianni Savio's Team - Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli-Selle Italia Squad

From among the top sprinters in the Pro Tour to the doldrums that had him on the brink of retirement and now his comeback trail, German icon Danilo Hondo could not have picked a better date for his return to the professional peloton. And the 13th edition of Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) from February 9 to 17 will be where the cycling world welcomes the return of the flamboyant superstar.

Danilo Hondo Photo courtesy Tour de Langkawi & © PhotoSport International

At 34-year old sprinter, having battled to prove his innocence after testing positive for Carphedon, a most uncommon form of substance abused in pro cycling, during the 2005 Vuelta a Murcia, Hondo’s second life as a cyclist could yet be his best. The new lease of life came with his signing under Venezuela-registered professional continental team Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli-Selle Italia, most definitely the team with the longest name in world cycling at this moment, but perennial contenders in Asia's biggest race over the past decade.

Hondo was scheduled to make a return at the Vuelta San Luis in Argentina from January 22 to 27, but was held up by an injury, thus leaving him no option but to make his comeback in Langkawi. The former Gerolsteiner sprinter Hondo prepared for his comeback season as he did when he was among the best sprinters in the world with a pre-season training camp in Cyprus and then in South Africa.

Hondo was supposed to have made a return to competitive cycling in the pro peloton in last year's LTdL with Tinkoff but now finds himself in a new team which makes him the replacement for last year's five-stage winner Alberto Loddo, who signed with Tinkoff in 2008 and recently served up his first win of the season for Tinkoff opening his and the teams account.

"I feel in good shape right now as I've done a lot of kilometres to help my comeback and I'm very concentrated on my first start in le Tour de Langkawi. After the very long lay-off, I'm really feeling free again, to be able to show the world my quality," said Hondo.

"Everything I hear about LTdL has been positive - a beautiful country, very friendly people, perfect organisation, great weather and a good chance to have a successful start to the season. I hope for a lot of chances for sprints and in the consequence to win stages. One will be great, more would be fantastic."

A year after his extended doping ban, Hondo has the backing of his charismatic team manager Gianni Savio, a popular figure in LTdL in the past decade. If Hondo’s brief comeback in 2006 with Italian continental team Lamonta, with which he won eight races, is anything to go by, Hondo should still be a force to be reckoned with.

"I believe in his good faith as he's provided all the documents showing that he didn't dope. I consider it would be unfair to leave him aside while others who have obviously doped are still allowed to race," said Savio, of the unclear circumstances which forced Hondo into the two year ban.

Hondo will obviously steal the limelight, even if momentarily, from his team mates in this evolution of what was previously the Colombia-Selle Italia team who have a record three overall wins in LTdL under their belt, along with the most number of wins in the Genting stage.

Colombian climber Jose Serpa will be eager to make up for his disappointing second placed finish behind Credit Agricole's Anthony Charteau in the general classification of last year's race, which saw his then team mate Walter Pedraza finish third.

Interestingly, Pedraza has also followed Loddo to Tinkoff Credit Systems, for whom both will be lining up in the at the tour this time around.

Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli-Selle Italia
le Tour de Langkawi Squad

Danilo Hondo (Germany)
Jose Serpa (Colombia)
Jackson Rodriguez (Venezuela)
Carlos Jose Ochoa (Venezuela)
Francesco Ginanni (Italy)
Ruslan Ivanov (Moldova)
Team manager: Gianni Savio (Italy)

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