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"As a team, we’ve done a good job but we’ve also lost one rider [Ruslan Tleubayev] who broke a collarbone in a crash. It’s nice to have the jersey but it’ll be even more difficult to control the race with one ri...

Photo: Le Tour de Langkawi 2016
























24.02.2016 @ 16:17 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Andrea Guardini (Astana) confirmed his status as Mr. Tour de Langkawi by taking the victory on the first stage of the 2016 edition of the Malaysian race. Having positioned himself perfectly in the technical finale, he easily came out on top in the bunch kick, holding off Brenton Jones (Drapac) and Andrea Palini (Skydive) to take both the victory and the leader’s jersey


We have gathered several reactions.


Andrea Guardini laments loss of lead-out man after first win in Langkawi

“When we come here to Malaysia, people always expect my sprint and the work of my teammates. Every time it is difficult to control the race, but today we have done a very good job. We let a good breakaway go and successfully caught the escapees,” explained Andrea Guardini after winning the first stage of the 2016 Tour de Langkawi.


Andrea Guardini won his 19th stage at Le Tour de Lanqkawi from mass sprint at the end of very hot and nervous day in Malaysia.


“It’s always hard to win, especially when being the hot favourite. In stage 1, it’s also difficult to take control of the events. Everyone was waiting for my team to do it. Fortunately, Southeast collaborated with us to catch the breakaway. There were good riders at the front but a lot of head wind at the end. As a team, we’ve done a good job but we’ve also lost one rider [Ruslan Tleubayev] who broke a collarbone in a crash. It’s nice to have the jersey but it’ll be even more difficult to control the race with one rider less.”


The Astana sprinter dedicated his victory to a new born baby after he spoke to his wife on the phone prior to the start.


“For the first time I became an uncle last night so this win is for Robin, my niece”, he said. “Le Tour de Langkawi isn’t a race like last year for me. I find some rivals who are new to me. I’ve already taken part in a lot of races [Dubai Tour, Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman] before coming here but I hope to keep a good condition from now until the last stage.”


“With five or six kilometers to go, I was on the wheel of Jakub Mareczko of Southeast team with my guys,” he later told Cyclingews. “But I realized we were in the wrong place because we were on their left and the last curve was to the left hand side. I opted for the right side without choosing any particular train to move up. It was a good choice. It enabled me to get out of the wheels of the Drapac riders. I took the curve in third position. I knew it would be narrow but I paid attention to not fall off. The head wind also helped me as I launched my sprint from the third position with 300 metres to go.”


“We controlled the race from the very beginning of the stage. Dias Omirzakov and Arman Kamyshev did a great job today! We controlled the breakaway during the whole day. At the end of the race guys tried to help Andrea, but the road was very wide and chaotic motions in the bunch resulted in bad crash with 4 km to go,” commented sports director Dmitri Sedoun.


Ruslan Tleubayev was involved in the crash with 4 km to go and forced to abandon the race. An ambulance took him straight from the race to hospital for further examinations. With a double fracture of the clavicle, he will fly to Europe for emergency surgery.


“It will be hard to start tomorrow only with five riders. I hope Ruslan will quickly recover. I wish him to get well soon and want to thank all of my teammates for the work they have done for me today,” concluded Guardini.


Brenton Jones off to a great start with second place in Langkawi

Brenton Jones of Drapac Professional Cycling (DPC) powered to second in the opening stage of Le Tour de Langkawi. The165km stage was flat, fast and featured a technical closing kilometers. Graeme Brown, Thomas Scully and Jens Mouris compiled the lead-out for Jones, adding tremendous horse power and experience. Andrea Guardini (Astana) took the victory with Andrea Palini (SkyDive Dubai) for third.


Jones was pleased with the team effort and result: “It was a fast finish from top of last climb at 20k to go. There were a few big crashes in finish but boys rode solid to get me up there. Good start with second today, we look to go one better tomorrow.”


“I can’t complain,” Jones told Cyclingnews. “We wanted to start off on a good note. Second to Guardini who has won a lot here before while this is my first time makes me happy. The boys did a really good job. Graeme Brown went through the last corner first. I got a little chopped off his wheel but I wasn’t too far behind him so I had a good sit into the head wind. I saw Guardini go and I went behind him. He was a bit quicker today but we’ve showed good form and hopefully we’ll get better as the week goes on.”


The 2016 DPC lead-out train of Mouris, Scully and Brown bring in substantial experience in tactics in the finals for Jones. Jones, who won the closing stage at Tour of Hainan last October has shown the talent and speed to go up against the top sprinters.


“Stage today was easy and controlled. In the final it was hectic and a LOT of crashes, luckily not that close to any of us. All the boys were where they needed to be and even the “climbers” got in the mix until during the day to protect Jones. In the final kilometers, Scully, Brenton and I lost the big Dutchman (Mouris) who managed to get himself to the front on the right and we were pinned on the left. Skully took us to 1k to go and I jumped on Dimension Data until 600 to go, went full as the last corner was a tight left at 300m to go. We went in super hot and sprinted out. Only Guardini managed to pass Brenton and he passed another guy in the final meters. All in all, a good team effort and a solid result to start to week,” Graeme Brown, team captain said.


“This is the first time we have raced with both Scully and Mouris in the lead out, and they gave us a lot of firepower in the final. We knew the last corner was crucial, and Brownie did an excellent job to get into the last corner first and give Brenton a great run to the line. Brenton did really well, committed into the corner but couldn’t get the better of Guardini this time. The sprints can be pretty messy here, and a number of the finals are pretty technical. But today we executed well, and if we can continue to work and progress from here we will be in the hunt over the following stages,” Tom Southam, Sports Director said.


Andrea Palini continues consistency with third place in Langkawi

Andrea Palini has been consistently in the top 10 in Qatar, Dubai and Gabon. Today he finished third.


“Considering that our flight was a bit delayed to bring us here, I’m happy with the outcome”, the Italian told Cyclingnews. “I’ve felt the jet lag while racing. This morning I was also affected by a little bit of food poisoning. I had to grit my teeth in the finale. I entered the last curve right behind Guardini. I managed to fend off other sprinters who wanted to overtake me. Third is a pretty good result.”


Crash derails plans for Tinkoff in Langkawi opener

While Tinkoff has returned to Europe for the main spring races, a part of the team has traveled to Malaysia for the Tour de Langkawi that takes place in hot and humid conditions. Our young squad got off to a quick start on the first stage of the race, carrying out its strategy to position Michael Kolar for the final sprint. A big pile-up in the closing two kilometers left our riders unscathed but prevented Tinkoff from executing its plan in the dash to the finish line, which Kolar crossed in sixth place.


Shortly after the finish, Sport Director Jan Valach, elaborated on the first day of racing.


"It was a hot day with temperatures hovering around 40ºC and strong humidity. However, that didn't affect our guys much because of the way the race unfolded. There was a four-man breakaway that formed and stayed ahead throughout the stage but the absence of riders from WorldTour teams meant we didn't have to pull hard to bridge the gap."


Stage 1 of Tour de Langkawi took the riders on a 167km-long route from Kangar to Baling and was marked by a mainly flat parcours with three short climbs.



"We remained calm, in a compact group and our only objective was the final sprint. The guys rode well and even the sprinters were able to stay towards the front on the final climb. We then pulled hard for Kolar but two pile-ups affected our train. The second one, about two kilometers from the finish, was quite messy and took down a number of riders. Luckily, our squad got away unscathed and unaffected but it threw a spanner in the works."


"We lost ground and in the last curve and Kolar was at the back. He finished up in sixth and our aim, obviously, was to do better than that. We wanted to position him at the front of the bunch in the last curve but we were unable to do so. It's a pity because I think that we did everything the way we should have today. We didn't pull, we didn't spend much energy, we waited for the sprint and put everything in motion for a leadout train in the closing 2.5km. Everything was in place for a good result but, unfortunately, the last pile-up derailed our plan. Kolar was tenth in the last curve, so there wasn't much more he could do," commented Valach.


"The guys are in good form, they all feel fine and if everything plays out as expected tomorrow, I think we can do better. The stage will be very similar to today's. We have 158km of flat terrain with two short climbs, 30km from the finish. From there it's downhill and the stage should finish with a bunch sprint. Our goal will be the same as well, to position Kolar for that sprint," concluded Valach.


Dimension Data left frustrated in first bunch sprint in Langkawi

As the stage was always expected to end in a mass sprint, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were riding in support of Reinardt Janse van Rensburg. With 30km to go, it was encouraging to see Rwandan star Adrien Niyonshuti driving the peloton forward as the Tour de Langkawi is his first race back after undergoing a stomach operation in the off season. As the finish line in Baling neared, the intensity of the chase increased and with 6km to go the race was all together.


Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had organised its leadout on the right side of the peloton with Songezo Jim, Johann van Zyl, Nic Dougall and Jaco Venter all ready to deliver Janse van Rensburg to the line. The team had done a great job to get into a winning position with 1km to go but the final sprint was frantic, with riders diving into the final left hand corner at 300m to go. Coming through that final bend, Janse van Rensburg was caught behind a rider with a mechanical which hindered his sprint somewhat. As Guardini surged to victory, the South African fast man had to settle for 7th position on the stage.


Sports director Jens Zemke explained the stage.

“Today's first stage was 166km and we were prepared for a sprint. The boys worked well together and they did a good leadout for Reinardt. They brought him to 8th position going through the last corner, Guardini was in 6th. Then the rider from Bardiani, who was in front of Reinardt, dropped his chain and Reinardt had to ride around him so he finished 7th. This is not the result we had hoped for but the boys did a good job, they rode together, performed the leadout and there is more to come from them as we know 7th position is not the best we can do.”


No luck for Matthews Goss in opening sprint in Langkawi

An increase in pace and a technical run into the finish meant several crashes unfolded but luckily the ONE Pro Cycling weren’t involved. The plan of attack was to deliver Matthew Goss to the finish line, but due to the chaos of the crashes the lead out was affected and didn’t quite go as planned. Up until that point George Harper, Karol Domagalski, John Ebsen, James Oram and Richard Handley had kept a solid unit, keeping a good position and staying on top of refuelling and hydration. Goss was well supported in the finale by the entire squad but unfortunately found himself on the wrong side of the carnage and out of luck in the last kilometre.


After Stage One the team currently lie 5th in the team classification. Karol Domagalski who had his race debut for the team finished the Stage in 20th position on the General Classification. A solid place to stand at the beginning of an 8-day tour.


Following the race Domagalski commented, “It was my first time racing for ONE Pro Cycling and immediately I felt that this is it! We worked together and supported each other really well. It makes it easy when the communication between the riders, Sports Directors and other members of staff is amazing. It’s a different level.”


Chinese star takes mountains jersey in Langkawi opener

Meiyin Wang was in the breakaway and took the mountains jersey.


“I thank my team for having given me the opportunity to try and go for the sprints and the KOM points”, said the 27 year old from Qufu in the Shandong province. “I also thank the organizers for inviting us once again. Le Tour de Langkawi is a platform for Chinese cyclists on the international cycling scene.”



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