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"I didn’t think I could beat Guardini. However, I was fresher than him after the last climb. That made the difference. I’m very happy. To win here is very important. It already makes my Tour de Langkawi a successful one.&rd...

Photo: Le Tour de Langkawi 2016






















25.02.2016 @ 17:59 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Andrea Palini (Skydive) continued his excellent start to the year by breaking Andrea Guardini’s (Astana) dominance at the Tour de Langkawi in stage 2 of the Malaysian race. In a close and crash-marred sprint, the former Lampre-Merida rider narrowly held off his compatriot while Reinardt van Rensburg (Dimension Data) rolled across the line as a distant third. Guardini defended the overall lead.


We have gathered several reactions.


Andrea Palini: I was fresher than Guardini

“I didn’t expect to win”, Palini explained in a post-race press conference. “I was hoping for scoring points but I didn’t think I could beat Guardini. However, I was fresher than him after the last climb. That made the difference. I’m very happy. To win here is very important. It already makes my Tour de Langkawi a successful one.”


“This is one of my most beautiful victories,” Palini told Cyclingnews after the finish. “I’ve beaten the most explosive sprinter in the world at this time of the year. Kittel has an impressive power for winning sprints from far out but talking about pure speed, Guardini is the best. I’m delighted to beat him today, also because he was on my wheel, so we’ve played with equal chances to win the stage.”


“Maybe I’ve climbed better than Guardini. He struggled a bit more in the hill, and he might have reached the finish a bit tired. My team also worked really well. Ivan Santaromita and Paco Mancebo are our GC riders, so they had to stay at the front today anyway even if I wasn’t going to win the sprint.”


Andrea Guardini: Palini is a more complete rider than I am

“I said this morning again that it’s never simple to win”, Guardini commented. “Palini showed today that he’s a more complete rider than me. He passed the hill better than me. I rode flat out to stay with the main peloton and it took out of me the energy I needed for winning the bunch sprint.”


"At first, we did not let the sprinters who could win the stage, escape. We fully controlled the race, let them go, and this resulted in a breakaway, which was not dangerous," sports director Dmitri Sedoun said after the finish.


Astana’s riders Arman Kamyshev and Dias Omirzakov did a great job in the first half of the stage, controlling the breakaways and movement in the peloton until the breakaway was formed.


"The 3rd category mountain was quite serious before the finish where the bunch was split and eventually just half of the peloton finished in front,2 Sedoun continued.


With 20 km to go, after the descent there was the breakaway of seven riders. At that moment, strong work was made by Laurens de Vreese and Miguel Angel Lopez, who did not allow the dangerous breakaway to reach the finish line and safely brought the yellow jersey holder to the finish.


"In the end, of course, Guardini was tired at the finish; there was almost no one to help him. After the withdrawal of Ruslan [Tleubayev], we have only five persons, and the whole team actively worked during the whole stage - in the first and second half. Andrea was almost alone at the finish, he didn’t have luck a bit," Sedoun concluded.


Aggressive Dimension Data tactic pays off with third place for van Rensburg

Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had a good day during the 158km stage from Sungai Petani to Pulau Pinang, animating the race when it counted the most. The stage was mostly quite flat, that was until riders reached a cat 3 climb that presented itself with 30km to go. The African Team's plan was to make the racing as hard as possible, as a tougher finish would suit their fast man Reinardt Janse van Rensburg. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka used the positive gradient as a platform to put its plan into action. Songezo Jim and Adrien Niyonshuti did well to set a really hard tempo on the climb, thinning out the bunch and ensuring the early break would be caught before the finish.


Johann van Zyl then also launched an attack in the final 20km and rode across to the leaders with 2 other riders, forcing the other sprinters teams to use more of their resources early than they perhaps had hoped. Van Zyl's break was eventually caught with 9km to go and then it was up to the African Team leading out Janse van Rensburg. Nic Dougall did a great job bringing the riders to the front of the race with 2km to go and then Venter dropped off Janse van Rensburg perfectly, with 300m to go.


Palini and Gaurdini also benefited from our team’s solid lead out and the Italians were able to come off Janse van Rensburg's wheel and just pip him for the top 2 positions on the stage. With Janse van Rensburg taking 3rd place on the line, he now sits 4th on the overall general classification at 12 seconds behind Guardini.


”We had a good day. We made the race hard on the last climb with Adrien and Songezo which then sparked a lot of attacks. We then got Johann in quite a good move as well. Once they were caught the team performed a great leadout for Reinardt and he ended 3rd so we can be happy about that today,” Venter said.


”The team was really good today,” van Rensburg said. “We tried to break the race up a little on the climb but unfortunately it wasn't steep enough to get rid of our main sprinting opposition. The team was still fantastic to lead me out and deliver me to a great position but I just missed that final kick today. I hope to reward them soon for their hard work.


“My team did a really good job to keep me in front,” the Dimension Data sprinter added to Cyclingnews. “We tried to break it at the bottom of the climb, but the climb wasn’t hard enough to split the bunch, so it was still a big bunch coming in. The other two guys were just faster than me in the finish. I came in the last curve in position 3, which was really the best position but I didn’t have the kick to pass them.”


Tinkoff get closer to first win in Tour de Langkawi sprints

Stage 2 of the Tour de Langkawi was decided in a small group sprint, in which Tinkoff's Michael Kolar finished fourth after a committed effort by the team. With another flat and very fast stage on the schedule for tomorrow, Tinkoff will aim for a top result with its team of young sprinters.


"It was again a relatively calm stage," commented Sport Director Jan Valach. "A five-man breakaway formed early on but with no WorldTour riders among the escapees once again, we didn't want to pull hard. Astana carried out most of the work in keeping the race under control and managing the gap and the breakaway was eventually brought back. Our goal was to set up the sprint for Kolar and in these initial stages of the race we tried to use our resources wisely. We have our sprinters and we aim for a result with them, but at the same time we want to give our young riders race experience."


After 81km of flat terrain, the peloton crossed an 18km-long bridge and got into the island of Penang for the closing 60km of the race. It was an undulating profile with two short climbs, 3km and 5km long. The final, flat 30km took the riders along the seaside and through the city of Georgetown, culminating in a hectic sprint of around 40 riders.

"We set up the leadout train with Evgeny Petrov, Juraj Sagan, Michael Gogl and Erik Baška. They did a solid job in bringing and keeping Kolar towards the front but with 250 meters to go, he was touched by another rider who crashed, so his effort was slightly affected, taking fourth place in the end. Yesterday, we weren't able to bring him to the front for the bunch sprint, today we managed to do it, and we will keep fighting for a stage victory," commented Valach.


Tomorrow, the peloton will battle it out on a short 107km stage, from Kulim to Kuala Kangsar. With nearly flat terrain and two short climbs, it will be another day for the sprinters and another shot at stage victory with Michael Kolar.


"Another typical sprinter's stage is in store for tomorrow. It will be short and very fast with a short climb 15km from the finish. From there it will be full on and our strategy remains intact, to aim for the sprint. After a sixth and a fourth, it would be nice to have a victory before we tackle the queen stage on Saturday," concluded Valach.


Two top 10 finishes for solid ONE Pro Cycling in Langkawi

A confident performance from ONE saw Karol Domagalski and George Harper claim two top Ten finishes on Stage Two of Le Tour de Langkawi.


Going into Stage Two the team had two key aims, first and foremost to protect the teams interest in the General Classification and secondly to deliver a rider into a good position at the finish. After a strong debut performance for ONE Pro Cycling in Stage One it was decided that the team would work together to position Karol Domagalski for the line.


ONE Pro Cycling rode well, maintaining a great position going into the final few kilometres to deliver Karol Domaglaski for the sprint contention where he claimed 8th position with George Harper taking 10th.


Enjoying his debut race of the season George Harper explained, “It feels great to be racing again, especially in such a amazing place! The team have ridden well the past few days and I’ve already learnt a lot from the riders and management team. Today was a great stage, the final climb split the peloton and it was flat out to the line after that. The guys rode really well and stuck together in what was a very chaotic finale.”


Overall a great team performance securing 4 riders in the Top 15 and sending ONE Pro Cycling to the top of the leader board in the General Team Classification.


Leading on the race DS Phil West commented, “We’re happy with how the first two stages have played out. None of the team have been exposed and the riders we would like to see move up on the General Classification are in a good position following today’s stage. It was another hectic and technical finish today but a solid performance has filled the riders full of confidence and they are eager for the coming stages. After a hectic and technical finish today the guys are feeling confident and we look forward to the coming stages.


”For tomorrow, we’ll have a similar strategy in advance of the hilltop finish on stage 4. Conserve and protect our current position and look at our stage options.”


Roth sprinter hits the deck in crash-marred Langkawi sprint

Unfortunately Dylan Page crashed today in the final sprint of the 2nd stage at the Tour de Langkawi. But he is okay, nothing broken, only some bruises.


Late split costs Chinese rider the race lead in Langkawi

China’s Wang Meiyin missed out on taking the yellow jersey from Guardini after another breakaway that saw him accumulating points for the King of the Mountains and the points classification he now leads. The fast finale prevented Wang from getting the same time as Palini, so he missed out on the yellow jersey despite having picked up bonus seconds in the intermediate sprints.


“But my main goal is the King of Mountains jersey”, the Chinese rider explained. “That’s why I rode away again.”


Malaysia bounces back from personal problems with great performance in Langkawi

Malaysia’s Loh Sea Keong was awarded the price of most combative rider as he also took part in the breakaway for the second straight day.


“My career was in a dilemma after I finished the Tour de Korea in June”, the Kelantanese explained. “I was struggling with a lot of things in my life. I decided to take a break from cycling but in November, I went to Thailand to train for making a come-back. Here I am, happy to race offensively for Malaysia again. Today it was the most valuable stage I’ve experienced in ten years of taking part in Le Tour de Langkawi. Riding in to Penang was incredibly spectacular, so was the run in to the finish when we came down to the coast from the last hill. It was a challenging route. I was thrilled to be part of the breakaway until very close to the finish.”



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