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The young Colombian makes it into the early breakaway that surprisingly stays away on a day for the sprinters, and makes a solo bid 1.5km from the line to take his first professional win; Guardini leads the peloton home in 5th

Photo: Sirotti

MATTHEW BRAMMEIER

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TOUR DE LANGKAWI

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NEWS
27.02.2014 @ 10:28 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Duber Quintero (Colombia) took his first professional victory in surprising fashion when the young Colombian won the opening stage of the Tour de Langkawi. On a day that was expected to be one for the sprinters, he made it into the early breakaway that managed to go all the way to the finish, before launching a solo bid for the win and the first leader's jersey 1.5km from the line.

 

The Tour de Langkawi is known as a festival for sprinters and as usual the race has gathered a host of fast finishers that are ready to battle it out on the flat terrain in Malaysia. However, too many cooks spoil the broth and when stars like Andrea Guardini, Theo Bos, Kenny Van Hummel, and Francesco Chicchi couldn't agree which team should reel in the early break on the opening stage, the escapees took the spoils.

 

The rider to benefit most from this unexpected scenario was Colombian youngster Duber Quintero who was part of the original 5-rider breakaway that was whittled down to 4 riders by the time they reached the finish. Being up against a faster rider in Matthew Brammerer (Synergy Baku), he knew that he had to launch a smart attack in the final and that is what he did 1.5km from the finish.

 

With fellow escapee Jonathan Clarke (UnitedHealthCare) admitting that he had all his focus on Brammeier whom he regarded as the strongest rider in the break, Quintero was allowed to solo away and his former companions never caught him again. The Colombian crossed the line in impressive fashion to take his first professional win and become the first leader of the race.

 

11 seconds later Brammeier beat Clarke in the sprint for 2nd while Goh Choon Huat (Singapore) rolled across the line in 4th as the best Asian rider in the race. 1.18 after Quintero had taken the win, Andrea Guardini (Astana) was left wondering what might have been when the record holder of Langkawi stage win beat his rivals in the sprint for 5th.

 

With the win, Quintero is also the first leader of the race, holding a 22-second advantage over Clarke and 24 seconds over Brammeier. He will wear the leader's jersey in tomorrow's flat 132.5km second stage and with the race now having an overall leader, one would expect that things will be more controlled, offering the sprinters a chance to come to the fore.

 

A flat stage

The Tour de Langkawi kicked off with a short 101.1km stage from Langkawi (Porto Malai) to Langkawi (Pantai Chenang) as the riders did a big circuit on the island of Langkawi. Despite the presence of no less than 5 categorized climbs, the stage was mostly flat and the many sprinters were expected to shine in the Malaysian heat.

 

With the race expected to come down to a sprint, it was no surprise that the early break was established right from the gun. After 2km of racing, Quintero, Clarke, and Brammeier took off and they were joined by Goh and Mohd Shaiful Anuar Aziz (Terengganu) a few moments later.

 

Chasers take off

Several smaller Asian teams had missed the move and so they sent riders off in pursuit. Zhi Hui Jiang (Giant) took off on his own while another two riders were chasing a little further behind.

 

After 13km of racing, the front quintet was 1.10 ahead of Jiang, 2.30 ahead of the next chasers, and 3.10 ahead of the peloton. At that time Brammeier had already beaten Clarke and Quintero on the day's first climb, and after 17.6km, he beat Quintero and Shaiful on the second one. At that point, the gap was already 7 minutes.

 

A battle for points

Quintero beat Clarke, Shaiful, and Brammeier in the day's first intermediate sprint while Brammeier continued scoring KOM points on the day's third climb where he was first at the top ahead of Quintero and Goh. Quintero was again the fastest in the second sprint, this time faster than Clarke, Shaiful, and Goh.

 

Jiang had been joined by Lok Chun Wu (Hong Kong) to form a chasing duo but they never got any closer to the front quintet. Meanwhile, the gap to the peloton was kept stable at around 7 minutes.

 

The break splits up

After 43km, the chasing duo was caught, leaving just the five leaders in front of the peloton. A little later, Quintero made it a clean sweep of the intermediate sprints when he beat Shaiful, Goh, and Clarke at the 46.1km mark.

 

After 55km, Shaiful was no longer able to maintain the pace of the breakaway and he was dropped, quickly falling back to the peloton. At this point, the gap was 5.40 and the peloton appeared to have things under control.

 

Brammeier new king of the mountains

Brammeier beat Quintero and Clarke on the fourth climb and on the final one he was against fastest, relegating the same to riders to the minor positions, albeit in reverse order. Hence, the Irishman is the first leader of the mountains classification.

 

As the peloton was not in full chase mode, it opened the door for new attacks and suddenly a 7-rider chase group had taken off, including Carlos Quintero (Colombia). However, that was enough for the peloton to finally react and they were quickly back in the fold.

 

The break stays away

With 25km to go, the gap was still 5.08 and it was now clear that the peloton had probably missed  a big opportunity. The main group was now riding hard but with 20km to go, the advantage was still 4.15.

 

The gap came down quickly and was 3.40 with 16km to go, 3.10 12.5km from the finish and 3.05 10km from the line. However, it was all too late and the escapees could start their battle for the win.

 

With 1.5km to go, Quintero made his move and as Clarke had his eyes on Brammeier, no one responded. Quintero held on to take a beautiful solo win while Brammeier won the sprint for 2nd ahead of Clarke. 1.18 later than Quintero, Guardini beat Anuar Manan (Terengganu) and Kenny Van Hummel (Androni) in the peloton's sprint.

 

Results to come

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