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
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
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
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
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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