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"I think it is best that we ride to keep the jersey first and then we ride for the sprints. It’s better to win the race overall, and if other teams work to the finish line for the sprint, we hope the other sprinters take sec...

Photo: Le Tour de Langkawi 2016

ANDREA GUARDINI

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NEWS

ASTANA - PREMIER TECH

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JESPER HANSEN

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MIGUEL ANGEL LOPEZ

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NTT PRO CYCLING TEAM

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ONE PRO CYCLING

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REINARDT JANSE VAN RENSBURG

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TOUR DE LANGKAWI

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28.02.2016 @ 21:11 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Andrea Guardini (Astana) became the first rider to reach the number of 20 stage victories at Le Tour de Langkawi – out of 37 in total in his six-year long pro career at the age of 26 – as he claimed the sprinters’ queen stage at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur, making it four out of four on the race’s most prestigious venue. The Italian was in a class of his own in the bunch sprint while Andrea Palini (Skydive) and Reinardt van Rensburg (Dimension Data) were a distant second and third respectively. Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) last a bit of his advantage but is still the overall leader.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Guardini ready to sacrifice stage wins to help Lopez win overall

”It was a perfect day for me, because it's my fourth victory in Kuala Lumpur and I win there every year,” explained Andrea Guardini.

 

“It’s a wonderful day because for me … it is a perfect day. Its my fourth finish in six years [in Kuala Lumpur] and I win every year.

 

"It's fantastic, because when I was at 20km to go I was thinking, ‘Always when I am riding here I can feel a lot of my adrenalin for this finish. I know the sprint really well – what I need to do, when I need to pass and where I need to sprint to win.’ And I did it all perfectly. I started on the right side and then went to the left to cut the roads when I was in the front. I did a really good sprint.

 

“We know that he [van Rensburg]is a really fast guy. We saw it today … and yesterday also when we did the first sprint and to beat him I had to go full gas.

 

“He has a very strong team. They want to take the time bonuses. I think it is best that we ride to keep the jersey first and then we ride for the sprints. It’s better to win the race overall, and if other teams work to the finish line for the sprint, we hope the other sprinters take second and third and I win. We cannot to deliver van Rensburg to bonifications – at least in the finale because we know they will want to take control and take time earlier.”

 

Miguel Angel Lopez loses terrain in sprint battle in Malaysia

“It was a very fast stage again”, Superman Lopez – his nickname – commented. “I’ve lost a little bit of time on GC because [Janse] van Rensburg was doing the sprints for time bonus. But we caught the breakaway riders by profiting from the work of the other teams too. I’m happy to retain the yellow jersey and to realize that the flag of [the Federal Territory of] Kuala Lumpur is exactly the same as Colombia’s at the exception of the heraldry in the middle. I feel much welcome in Malaysia.”

 

Reinardt van Rensburg gets closer to overall win in Langkawi

It was a fast start to the 148km stage, with almost 50km covered in the first hour of racing. The high speed was largely thanks to Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka putting pressure on the peloton, as the African Team raced for the bonus seconds at the 2 intermediate sprints that came in the opening 60km.

 

At the first intermediate sprint Janse van Rensburg won back 2 seconds in the GC race by placing 2nd behind Guardini. By the time the 2nd sprint came the race was becoming harder to control with many other teams getting in on the act as well. A small split went off the front just before the sprint was reached, and those lead riders took all the bonus seconds. It was straight after this sprint prime that a group of 6 riders were then allowed to break away.

 

The finish was not all that far away after the 2nd sprint and so the 6 escapees were held on a short leash by the sprinters teams. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, Drapac and Tinkoff all did a lot of work on the front of the peloton. Adrien Niyonshuti was particularly strong in this regard, spending a lot of time on the front of the peloton.

 

Despite a few new late attacks, the expected bunch sprint would materialise as all breakaway riders were caught with 2km to go. With great support from his team, Janse van Rensburg was kept in a good position for the sprint and the ever dependable Jaco Venter was with Janse van Rensburg until the final kilometer.

 

In the sprint, Guardini showed once again he is the fastest and Janse van Rensburg was only just pipped by Palini for 2nd. 3rd place at the line gave Janse van Rensburg another 4 bonus seconds and so the South African rider now sits 2nd on GC, 23 seconds behind Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana).

 

Sports director Jens Zemke said:
 

“It was another fast and hot day, temperatures reached 40 degrees. The time gap for the GC got a bit smaller today, Lopez only has 23 seconds now. Reinardt finished once again on the podium, in 3rd place and very close to winner. The team did a fantastic job, after the final climb when the 5 riders were still away our boys did a great job to help close the gap. I am really proud of how the boys are racing here, showing good teamwork and still 3 more tough stages are to come.”

 

Neo-professional European champion gets his chance for Tinkoff in Langkawi sprint

After yesterday’s shake up in GC, stage 5 was another opportunity for the fast men at the Tour de Langkawi and it was Erik Baška who Tinkoff put its efforts into for the stage. After 148km of racing, Baška powered home to take fourth in the city streets of Kuala Lumpur.

 

Escaping the afternoon heat, Sport Director Jan Valach gave his thoughts on the day, saying: “It wasn’t a really long stage today but the heat made it difficult for everyone today with temperatures reaching 41 degrees.

 

“We went into the stage wanting to comfort Jesper Hansen’s fifth place on GC as he was on the same time as six others, and then to also go for the sprint with Erik Baška.”

 

After typical early breaks making headway in the previous stages, today proved different as nothing got clear for the first 60km, making for a hard, fast start to the day. This helped Tinkoff in riding to take some time in the intermediate sprints, and at the second sprint Jesper, with the help of Juraj Sagan, Evgeny Petrov and Michael Gogl, came over the line in second to secure some vital bonus seconds.


“It was a hard start with no breakaway and this meant that we could go for the intermediate sprints as planned,” Valach continued. “It worked out for us at the second sprint and Jesper finished the day with a gap over those behind him on GC. When the break went, things calmed down and the race was controlled for a sprint.”

 

Six riders got clear and pulled out a maximum lead of 3’30” before being reeled back in with 6km to race.

 

“The guys stayed out of the wind, but well placed as the breakaway was pulled back, before preparing for the sprint. They did a good job again today, working well together, with Michael Kolar putting Erik into a strong position in the final 200m but fourth was the maximum today.”

 

Tomorrow’s sixth stage features four small climbs, the last of which could shake things up with only 8km between the crest and the finish. Another possible opportunity to make up some ground on GC or to push for another result in a reduced bunch sprint.

 

ONE Pro Cycling ride aggressively in fast Langkawi stage

The plan for the day for ONE was be very active in the early part of the stage, aiming to make the break with 3 riders and deliver the others for an aggressive move on the last climb. However, given ONE Pro Cycling’s position on the GC and overall the team weren’t given much breathing space and were marked out.

 

For ONE Pro Cycling the plan was then for John Ebsen and Richard Handley to attack the final climb with the top appearing at approx 15km to go. In the final kilometre, Ebsen attacked followed by Richard Handley, getting together over the top they caught the remnants of the breakaway and opened up a lead of 50 seconds. Unfortunately Dimension Data and Drapac saw the threat and increased the tempo on the front of the peloton to reel them in, catching them with 5km to go.

 

In the sprint Karol Domagalski got into the thick of the action for another top 15 finish, while George Harper arrived safely after been caught behind a crash to secure his 4th place on the GC.

 

Malaysian ready for tough jersey defence in home race in Langkawi

Malaysia’s Adiq Hussainie Othman also retained the lead of the best Asian rider classification.

 

“I was a bit nervous in the race today with [Masakazu] Ito and Zhao Jingbiao only at six and seven seconds”, the Terengganu rider from Dungun explained. “I had a big problem with my bicycle so I got it changed after 80km and it went well till the end.

 

“Tomorrow it’s the most complicated day to defend the white jersey but I’ve reckoned the course at training and it should be no problem as long as there’s no technical issue. It was emotionally fabulous to hear people shouting my name loud on the road sides today. It felt like Adiq was everywhere!”

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