ANUAR Manan bagged only his second podium finish of the year in an UCI race when he finished third in the opening stage of the Tour of China II in Huainan yesterday.
The Champion System rider came within a whisker of ending his year-long UCI race victory drought after finishing behind Team Type 1's Alexander Serebryakov of Russia and Kazakhstan's Ruslan Tleubayev in the bunch sprint.
Terengganu Cycling Team's Harrif Saleh was also in the picture, but had to settle for fifth.
But both Malaysians have set up an explosive battle for the points classification which sees four riders tied atop the standings on 16 points each, entering the second stage.
Germany's Stefan Schumacher and Serebryakov are the two others tied with Anuar and Harrif in the points classification. Schumacher also leads the general classification.
Terengganu Cycling Team coach Sebastien Duclos said after a quiet outing in the Tour of China I, which ended on Friday, his charges will be looking to cement some results in the coming days.
"We have a shot at the points classification, but I expect the riders to try harder for a stage win or some podium in the coming two days before the final day's time trial," said Duclos.
The Terengganu Cycling Team are the current UCI Asia Tour overall team leaders. A stage win in the Tour of China II could be sufficient to confirm the title before they head to the final race of the UCI Asia Tour season, the Tour of Brunei. By Arnaz M. Khairul