CYCLING / LE TOUR DE LANGKAWI: Glory for Arredondo
SURPRISE: Colombian wins overall title after taking final stage
JULIAN David Arredondo completed one of the biggest surprise victories in Le Tour de Langkawi's (LTdL) history when the Colombian captured the overall winner crown after the final stage from Kenyir Lake to Kuala Terengganu yesterday.
It was the biggest success in Arredondo's professional career which only began with Japan's Team Nippo-De Rosa last year. Incidentally, it was also the first overall victory by a third-tier UCI Continental Team.
Arredondo, 25, became the fourth Colombian to win LTdL's overall title after Hernan Dario Munoz in 2002, Fredy Gonzalez in 2004 and Jose Serpa in 2009 and 2012. Colombia has become the most successful country in LTdL.
Yesterday's final stage ended in a bunch sprint that saw Italy's Francesco Chicchi take his second stage win ahead of Synergy-Baku's Rico Rogers and Blanco's Greame Brown.
Vini Fantini rider Chicchi also swept the points classification title as compatriot Andrea Guardini of Astana, the leader from the previous day, barely rode home to finish the stage, suffering from fever.
Anuar Manan of Synergy-Baku battled hard for victory on the final day, but had to be satisfied with sixth spot while finishing third in the points classification behind Chicchi and Guardini.
Adiq Husainie Othman of Champion System finished as the top ranked Malaysian with 28th position in the final general classification.
Hengxiang Cycling Team's Wang Meiyin of China completed his Asian riders' classification victory, adding to the mountains classification success on Friday.
The moment, however, belonged to Arredondo, whose sweet victory made up for a troubled year.
"I am super happy with this. It makes up for the troubles I had last year when many problems with obtaining visas saw me limited to only five or six races. So this is a sweet moment," said Arredondo.
"I am with a small team, but we are like a family and my teammates were always close to me, protecting my lead in the past five days I held the yellow jersey, so I have to thank them for that.
"To achieve this victory with such a strong field, with so many big names and Pro Teams is also a great achievement. It shows it is not important whether you are with a big team or a small team. What is important is having the mentality to win."
South Africa's MTN-Qhubeka, featuring the first ever professional cyclists from Ehtiopia (Tsgabu Grmay) and Eritrea (Jani Tewelde and Meron Russom), also proved their project to bring Africa's developed pool of endurance athletes into cycling is bearing great success when they emerged overall team champions.