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Will it be another bunch sprint on the third day in Langkawi?

Photo: Le Tour de Langkawi 2016

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TOUR DE LANGKAWI

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25.02.2016 @ 23:59 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

In addition to several one-day races in the weekend, this week offers two stage races, the Tour de Langkawi and the inaugural edition of the Tour La Provence. Every day we will offer you short previews of the stages at both the Malaysian and French race.

 

Tour de Langkawi, stage 3:

The course:

The sprinters can expect to be back in action on the short third stage which brings the riders over 107.2km from Kulim to Kuala Kangsar. There’s an early category 4 climb and another category 4 climb 14.9km from the finish from where the riders descend to a flat finale. There are two turns just after the flamme rouge, leading to an 800m finishing straight.

 

The weather:

There will be no chance to cool down on another brutally hot and sunny day in Malaysia where the temperature at the finish will be 34 degrees. There will only be a light wind from a southerly direction so it will be a headwind for most of the day. In the finale, the riders will turn into a crosswind which will also be the conditions for the sprint.

 

The favourites:

Andrea Palini again confirmed that he deserves a spot in a WorldTour team by beating Andrea Guardini fair and square in the sprint on stage 2. The Italian has been the dominant continental sprinter for a long time and has been very consistent when he has been given the chance against the best sprinters. Today he finally took a deserved victory against the best.

 

We didn’t expect the late climb to make much of a difference but in the end it was what allowed Palini to beat Guardini. Dimension Data really made it hard on the ascent and the Astana sprinter admitted that he had been on his limit. That left him tired for the finale and this made it possible for Palini to edge him out in a photo finish.

 

However, we expect Guardini to be back on top tomorrow. It’s another guaranteed bunch sprint as Astana will now get assistance from Skydive Dubai and probably again Southeast in the chase. The wind will do no damage but again there is a late climb which is even closer to the finish. There’s not much information available but this one is only of the fourth category so it is probably easier than the one that did the damage today.

 

This will make the stage much easier. Furthermore, there will be less wind and so less stress and it’s a very short stage too. In general, the sprinters will be much fresher in the finale. Furthermore, the sprint is a lot less complicated and this time there is only a series of sweeping bends in the finale. This means that it is more about speed than positioning.

 

There is no doubt that Guardini is the fastest rider in the field. His main challenge is his lack of lead-out but today he proved that he can position himself even without lead-out man Ruslan Tleubayev who has left the race. His positioning has improved a lot and so he is likely to start his sprint from a reasonable spot. He will be much fresher in the end and when it comes to pure speed, he is probably unrivaled.

 

The only rider with the speed to beat him in such an easy stage is probably Jakub Mareczko who is extremely fast. He has had a hard time in the technical finales but tomorrow it will be more about pure speed. This will play into his hand and he will also benefit massively from the easier stage.

 

Today Andrea Palini beat Andrea Guardini and so he has the speed to do so again. He is very good at positioning himself and always does well even without a lead-out. He would clearly have preferred a more technical finale and a harder stage. However, Dimension Data will probably go full gas on the final climb and this could play into his hands.

 

A late puncture took Brenton Jones out of contention in today’s stage but he was up there after the climb which proves his good form. The easier stage should suit him well as he is a pure sprinter and with Graeme Brown, he probably has the best lead-out. This is a very good stage for the Australian.

 

We have been pointing to the impressive Androni line-up but they have not had much luck yet. Today’s stage was too hard for Francesco Chicchi who gave the chance to neo-pro Luca Pacioni. However, tomorrow’s stage is tailor-made for a pure sprinter like Chicchi who has an amazing speed but is poor at positioning himself. If Androni can nail the lead-out, he is able to win the stage. Otherwise, Marco Benfatto and Pacioni may get their chance but they are less likely to win.

 

Unitedhealthcare again proved that the train of Putt and Magner is great at positioning John Murphy. That will put the American into a good position but he is probably not fast enough to win. That’s not the case for Nicola Ruffoni who looked very strong in today’s stage. He has the speed to win the stage but it remains to be seen whether he has recovered from today’s crash.

 

Finally, we will again point to the Slovakian Tinkoff duo of Michael Kolar and Erik Baska. Tinkoff have a pretty strong team. Yesterday they were hampered by a crash but today they were up there. They probably don’t have the speed to win but with the right amount of support, the protected sprinter – probably Kolar could be on the podium.

 

CyclingQuotes’ stage winner pick: Andrea Guardini

Other winner candidates: Jakub Mareczko, Andrea Palini

Outsiders: Brenton Jones, Francesco Chicchi, John Murphy

Jokers: Nicola Ruffoni, Michael Kolar, Erik Baska

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