STAGE 2: Secures first win of season
THE first bunch sprint of this year's Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) at the end of the 151 kilometre second stage from Putrajaya to Malacca yesterday, also saw the end of Andrea Guardini's painful wait for his first victory of the season.
An expected duel between Guardini and local favourite Anuar Manan did not exactly pan out as the Malaysian was left trailing when the front of the pack put their hammers down in the final kilometre.
But earlier, Loh Sea Keong gave local fans hope of a local victory when he embarked on a 120 kilometre breakaway with Drapac Cycling's Floris Goesinnen of Australia.
The pair swept the top two spots in all three intermediate sprints and king of the mountains spots on offer yesterday and 29-year old Goesinnen aptly became the Tour's first mountains classification leader.
Italy's Guardini, who last year equalled Australian Graeme Brown's record of five stage victories in a single edition of LTdL, entered this race having yet to register a victory in three attempts at the Tour of San Luis in Argentina, Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman.
Still sporting bruises from his crash on the penultimate stage of the Tour of Oman, the bandages on his arms and thighs did nothing to slow the 23-year-old down.
He was clearly ahead of second placed Jacobe Keough of the United Healthcare team, who edged Colnago-CSF's Christian Delle Stelle to second spot, while Anuar chased hard to record a fourth place finish.
"I'm a bit calmer now that I've got my first victory this year after three attempts which didn't go so well.
"In the previous three races, I was either unlucky or the adversaries were simply stronger than me," said Guardini, whose victory also handed him the points classification lead with a point advantage over Sea Keong.
The blanket finish meant Garmin-Barracuda's David Zabriskie held on to the yellow jersey for a second day and looks good to have it at least for another two days with the sprinters' teams seeming eager to work for bunch sprint finishes.
Astana's Aleksandr Dyachenko also held on to the Asian riders' classification lead.
The local challenge wasn't as stiff as expected, but the Terengganu Cycling Team suffered a worse outcome on the first day out on open roads when they did not feature in the sprint for the victory with Zamri Salleh only managing 10th spot, while his younger brother Harrif, who was touted as a worthy challenger for stage victories, only placed 16th.
Anuar, 26, attributed his Champion System team's disintegration in the final two kilometres to his failure to give Guardini a stiffer fight for the win.
Today sees the peloton tackle another fairly flat 187.6km Stage Three from Malacca to Parit Sulong, where the bunch would likely compromise on a bunch sprint settlement of accounts for the day.
Stage 2 (151km from Putrajaya to Malacca): 1 Andrea Guardini (Ita) Farnese Vini 3:35.19s, 2 Jocobe Keough (USA) United Healthcare, 3 Christian Delle Stelle (Ita) Colnago-CSF, 4 Anuar Manan (Mas) Champion System, 5 Raymond Kreder (Ned) Garmin-Barracuda, 6 Jani Twelde (Eri) MTN-Qhubeka, 7 Yohann Gene (Fra) Europcar, 8 Marco Canola (Ita) Colnago-CSF, 9 Valentin Iglinskiy (Kaz) Astana, 10 Zamri Salleh (Mas) Terengganu, ... 16 Harrif Salleh (Mas) Terengganu, 29 Shahrul Mat Amin (Mas) Terengganu, 36 Saufi Mat Senan (Mas) Terengganu, 57 Amir Mustafa Rusli (Mas), 58 Suhardi Hassan (Mas), 65 Mohd Rauf Nor Misbah (Mas), 77 Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi (Mas), 84 Nor Ridzuan Zainal (Mas), 94 Ng Yong Li (Mas) Azad University (all same time), 102 Ahmad Fallanie Ali (Mas) 3::35.39s, 125 Loh Sea Keong (Mas) OCBC Singapore 3:38.05s;
General classification (yellow jersey): 1 David Zabriskie (USA) Garmin-Barracuda 3:59.23s, 2 Adam Phelan (Aus) Drapac +1:00s, 3 Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Drapac +1:10s, 4 Tom Danielson (USA) Garmin-Barracuda +1:17s, 5 Jose Rujano (Ven) Androni-Venezuela +1:26s;
Points classification (blue jersey): 1 Andrea Guardini (Ita) Farnese Vini 15 points, 2 Loh Sea Keong (Mas) OCBC Singapore 15, 3 Jacobe Keough (USA) United Healthcare 14, 4 Christian Delle Stelle (Ita) Colnago-CSF 13, 5 Anuar Manan (Mas) Champion System 13;
Mountains classification (red jersey): 1 Floris Goesinnen (Aus) Drapac 8 points, 2 Loh Sea Keong (Mas) OCBC Singapore 4, 3 Adiq Husainie Othman (Mas) Champion System 1, 4 Freddy Gonzalez (Col) Azad University 1;
Asian riders' classification (white jersey): 1 Dmitriy Gruzdev (Kaz) Astana 4:01.26s, 2 Aleksandr Dyachenko (Kaz) Astana +06s, 3 Behnam Khalili (Irn) Tabriz Petrochemical +13s, 4 Ghader Mizbani (Irn) Tabriz Petrochemical +39s, 5 Hossein Askari (Irn) Tabriz Petrochemical +51s;
Teams classification: 1 Garmin-Barracuda (USA) 12:02.35s, 2 Drapac Cycling (Aus) +1:10s, 3 Androni Gioccatoli-Venezuela (Ven) +2:44s, 4 Astana Pro Team (Kaz) +2:54s, 5 Tabriz Petrochemical (Irn) +3:26s, .. 19 Terengganu Cycling Team (Mas) +7:22s, 20 Malaysia +8:24s.