By Anthony Tan in Kuala Selangor
One may be forgiven for knowing little about the winner of the fourth stage today, 26 year-old Colombian José Serpa.
The neo-pro from Selle Italia Diquigiovanni is quite possibly the last rider to be registered as a professional in 2006; after all, direttore sportivo Gianni Savio only signed him right at the end of last month following his three stage wins and second overall at the Vuelta al Tachira.
That race in Venezuela came down to the wire; throughout the 14-day race, Serpa staged an impressive head-to-head battle against local favourite Manuel Medina from the Cabimas team, winning two road stages and the final stage time trial to come within a minute and a half of stealing victory from Medina.
"He's a complete rider," said Savio to Cyclingnews when asked to describe his qualities.
"He was an amateur, and I signed with him only at the end of January - this is the first race he participates in with the professionals. We signed a contract with him for three years - 6, 7 and 8. We signed in Venezuela after the Vuelta Tachira; he was second in the overall classement, and for this reason I signed him and presented a description to the UCI."
Naturally, Savio and assistant direttore sportivo Bellini were one of the first to congratulate Serpa following his first pro win here in Kuala Selangor, where he upstaged his more experienced rivals after being away for all but five kilometres in a stage that 28 times that length.
"This morning, I spoke with Gianni Savio and Marco Bellini and they thought we could possibly do something today. So I took it from there and it resulted in victory," said Serpa.
"I'm very, very happy that Gianni has given me the chance to race at the highest level, and I will do my utmost to achieve a high level in cycling."