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"This is a very important victory for me. To start the season well will give me a lot of confidence and serenity for my further goals, the main one being the Vuelta a España."

Photo: Sirotti

ANDREA GUARDINI

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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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REINARDT JANSE VAN RENSBURG

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TOUR DE LANGKAWI

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UNITEDHEALTHCARE PRO CYCLING

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27.02.2016 @ 19:34 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) lived up to his status as the huge favourite for the stage win on the queen stage of the Tour de Langkawi as he rode to a dominant solo win on the climb to the Cameron Highlands. A powerful attack with 5km to go on the relatively easy climb allowed him to drop an elite group of climbers and put 30 seconds into second-placed Daniel Jaramillo (Unitedhealthcare) and 35 seconds into a 15-rider group that was led to the line by Reinardt van Rensburg (Dimension Data). Lopez is also the new overall leader of the race.

 

We have gathered several reactions.

 

Miguel Ange Lopez: This is a confidence boost for the Vuelta

“This is my second victory since the beginning of new season. I believe in my team and my team believes in me – it gives me an opportunity to show myself,” Miguel Angel Lopez Moreno said.

 

“After outstanding work of our team for Andrea [Guardini] and for me in these four days, I had a great motivation. I felt good during the whole day and in the final it showed in the result.

 

“It was a very fast stage. I had to justify my team-mates’ dedication. With one rider less, it wasn’t easy to do so much work to make me win up here, but I attacked where I was told to do so. This is a very important victory for me. To start the season well will give me a lot of confidence and serenity for my further goals, the main one being the Vuelta a España.

 

“This was a very fast stage before the climb. And then on the climb I wanted to be at the level of the performance my teammates. And in the finale it was a question of having the best legs.”

 

“This is a very important victory for me. It helps me start the year with a lot of confidence.”

 

“We have a very strong team, but we are missing one rider and it’s difficult to work at the front all the time. However, we will do it again tomorrow and we are hoping for a great finale with Andrea.”

 

“The goal was to control riders from rival teams. We made a confident and calm race and attacked in the place we agreed in advance. I think we successfully implemented all that we planned to do today,” said sports director Dmitri Sedoun.

 

It was also a great job by Laurens De Vreese who was with Lopez until the last km before his attack.

 

“Everybody tried to help. Even Guardini in his yellow jersey brought water to Lopez. All of the guys are in good shape and the atmosphere in the team is very good,” concluded Sedoun.

 

After today’s mountain stage Andrea Guardini gives his yellow jersey to his Colombian teammate and still wears the green jersey of leader of the points classification.

 

“Miguel Angel did a really good job and I’m happy for him because he’s a really good guy”, Guardini echoed “We wanted to play our cards as soon as possible in Le Tour de Langkawi, even though it’s hard to catch all the breakaways.”

 

Unitedhealthcare admits Lopez superiority in Langkawi queen stage

UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling had three riders in the top 10, with Daniel Jaramillo in 2nd, Jonathan Clarke in 5th and Janez Brajkovic in 10th.

 

Sports directeur Hendrik Redant summed up the finish for which he had so much hope, saying: “We tried. Johnny was with him, then he let go,” he told Cyclingnews. “Then Jaramillo reacted because Johnny dropped back … but then he couldn’t get him. It was a great ride [by Lopez].”

 

Reinardt van Rensburg proves that he is more than a sprinter in Langkawi queen stage

South African fast man Reinardt Janse van Rensburg showed his climbing ability by finishing in a fantastic 3rd position.

 

The stage started off with a sprint prime coming early on. Janse van Rensburg took 2nd place behind the yellow jersey wearer of Andrea Guardini (Astana) at the prime and this gave the Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka rider a few bonus seconds for the general classification.

 

While Janse van Rensburg has certainly erred more to the title of sprinter than climber in the past, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka always believed Janse van Rensburg could put in a good ride on this climb and so the African Team rode in full support of the South African today. As the peloton slowly began to whittle down on the climb, Janse van Rensburg was showing his versatility always riding near the front with the rest of the African Team, trying to keep the race together as much as possible.

 

Janse van Rensburg could not match the accelerations of the smaller climbers but he just kept a consistently hard tempo going. Lopez went on to cross the line alone, 30 seconds ahead of Jaramillo and Janse van Rensburg out sprinted the climbers he was with to take 3rd place, just 5 seconds further back.

 

The result of the stage now places Janse van Rensburg 2nd on the general classification, 29 seconds behind Lopez and still 4 flat stages are left to race. Bonus seconds could play an important role in the final result come next Wednesday.

 

”I felt really good all day and super comfortable over the first part of the climb. Lopez attacked with 5km to go and he was really strong. The team rode well, but unfortunately Johann van Zyl had a puncture on the first part of the climb and had to put in a big effort to come back, and this cost us the final guy we needed to keep things together for me. In the end I had to settle for 3rd, but I proved today that I am more than just a sprinter. A few more stages left and there should be a few more chances for us,” van Rensburg said.

 

Sport director Jens Zemke added:
 

“Reinardt was 2nd in one of the time bonus sprints so already he moved up to 4th place on GC during the stage. Then Guardini, Palini and Murphy who were ahead of him on GC, were dropped on the climb. Reinardt then came to the finish in a group of maybe 10 or 15 riders but the strong climbers like Lopez and Jaramillo attacked in the final 5km and we could not go with. It was a super performance from the team though and Reinardt now sits 2nd on the GC.”

 

Jesper Hansen comes up short after strong Tinkoff showing in Langkawi queen stage

The fifth and queen stage of the Tour de Langkawi, as expected, proved to be the shake up in GC that the race was awaiting. At the end of the 129.4km stage to Tanah Rata, Jesper Hansen came over the line in eighth place, just 35 seconds down on the stage winner, moving up to fifth on GC.

 

After the stage, Sport Director Jan Valach explained: “Today was a unique stage with a very long finishing climb that presented a good opportunity for the GC climbers, and so our focus was on Jesper Hansen and Evgeny Petrov. Going into the stage Jesper was just 22 seconds down and could make up ground overall.”

 

The toughest stage of the eight-day race featured a relatively flat first 80km before the profile gradually ramped up to the finishing climb, reaching 1450m altitude. A breakaway of four local riders pulled clear early in the stage and despite an average speed of 46km/h in the first hour, the escapees pulled out their advantage to over six minutes while behind Juraj Sagan joined the chase to keep the break in check.


“Today wasn’t a day for us to join the breakaway, focusing our efforts on our climbers for later on instead. Juraj helped the chase until km 75 after which the peloton turned left onto the climb, where we focused on staying calm and riding together.

 

“Three riders jumped across to the break 30km out, then at 20km to go we hit the front all together and started to really bring the escapees back. The pressure was on as the leaders split, eventually being caught with around 12km to go.”

 

The team kept putting pressure on the front of the shrinking peloton and as rain began to fall the attacks started to fly. With 5km to race the winning move came and Jesper Hansen was well positioned on the wheel but couldn’t hold on and was caught by the GC group before the finish, coming over the line 35 seconds in arrears.

 

“The whole team worked well today, Michael Kolar did a good job, then Erik Baska too. Then Juraj, before Evgeny rode until 3km to finish with Michael Gogl. The guys worked hard today, and in the final Jesper rode a strong finish, giving all he could.”

 

ONE Pro Cycling with strengths in numbers in Langkawi

The plan for ONE was to deliver the riders in current GC contention into the final climb and then commit to the final 5km to the finish line. A course not typically suited to sprinters, Matt Goss was giving the role of protecting the team in the peloton and he delivered on every opportunity, ensuring they his team mates were positioned perfectly in advance of the ascents. Expending energy going back to the car for food and water, Goss even went as far as riding at the front of the group in the early part of the climbs to keep GC contenders George Harper, James Oram and Karol Domagalski out of the wind.

 

 

ONE Pro Cycling were in a strong position as they topped the first King of the Mountains ( a category one climb) with 5 riders at the front of the race out of approximately 50 remaining . After a short descent the riders began the gruelling 10km Hors category climb (most difficult category climb) onto a mountain top finish.

 

Under the pressure from Tinkoff the breakaway was caught and more riders disappeared off the back of what remained of the group. The head of the race then split into two groups of approximately 15 riders as the attacks started to launch with 5km to go. George Harper, John Ebsen and Richard Handley made the first split, with James Oram and Karol Domagalski only a handful of seconds back in group two.

As the race unfolded Miguel Ángel López from Astana went forwards for the win, no one could respond and Ebsen went clear in the final 1.5km from the chase group only to get caught with 500m to go. An impressive kick from Harper saw him cross the line in 7th position while Oram, only a few seconds back managed to sprint off the front of his group coming home solo. Karol Domagalski, Richard Handley finished safely in the group behind with Domagalski winning the group sprint in an opening move 400m from the line.

 

After Stage 4, ONE Pro Cycling currently have 5 riders in the Top 22, all within 1 minute 24 seconds. George Harper's impressive performance has moved him up the General Classification to 4th overall.

 

Malaysian on the verge of making history after Langkawi queen stage

For the first time, a Malaysian became the best Asian rider after the queen stage. “I thank my coach Adam Szabo, my team Terengganu, my family and my wife who came to watch me racing today”, said Adiq Hussainie Othman. “I wouldn’t be here without them. I’ve worked hard and lost a lot of weight to do well in this queen stage of Le Tour de Langkawi. I prefer long climbs like this one than steep ones like Genting. I did my best to stay in the first group. Now I’ll try to make history in becoming the first Malaysian to win the best Asian competition.”

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