TOUR OF BORNEO: Torckler emerges champ after scare
PURE Black Racing needed "to push the panic button" to save Michael Torckler's overall lead in the 112.4km final stage of the Tour of Borneo from Kundasang to Kota Kinabalu yesterday.
Despite the scare, New Zealander Torckler emerged as the Tour of Borneo's first overall winner.
An 11-man escape group that included Genesys Wealth Advisers' Jonathan Lovelock, were formed when the peloton began the treacherous descent from Kundasang to Kota Kinabalu.
Although Torckler's Pure Black Racing team initially agreed to allow the group a comfortable time cushion over the peloton, the lack of information about the time gaps allowed Lovelock's group to put a five-minute deficit on the main bunch which meant the Australian would have taken the yellow jersey from Torckler in a dramatic final twist.
But amid questions about the New Zealanders' reserves of energy after their gallant efforts in defending Torckler's yellow jersey after a memorable top three sweep on the opening stage, Pure Black managed to raise their level yet again.
"It has been hard work from the first day of the race. The team have had to work hard in all the stages, but today definitely we didn't take a day off," said 25-year-old Torckler, who registered his second overall victory after the Tour of Wellington in 2010.
"We thought it was okay to let the breakaway go and keep it in check. As we descended the information coming to us was sparse and the last time check we received was that the gap was at about a minute. Then with about 30 kilometres to go, suddenly it was over five minutes, so we panicked a little bit there.
"I had to tell the team to push hard to cut the gap as much as we could and luckily it was enough, although we didn't get to catch the breakaway."
So hard did Pure Black Racing drive the main bunch that they were thanked by the Kazakhstan national team as their efforts also helped to preserve the blue jersey on Sergey Kuzmin's back as the leader of the Asian riders' classification. Earlier, Kuzmin's lead was threatened by Polygon-Sweet Nice's Bambang Suryadi who was in the Lovelock group.
In the end, Lovelock moved up to third in the general classification when he finished 10th and still needed 44 seconds to overturn Torckler's lead, while Bambang was 20 seconds short of Kuzmin's lead in the Asian classification.
Ukraine's Volodymyr Zagorodniy of the Suren Uzbekistan Team attacked the breakaway bunch in the final kilometre and won the stage.
Zagorodniy's win was the Suren Uzbekistan Team's first victory in the UCI Asia Tour this season.
Terengganu Cycling Team's Shahrul Mat Amin completed the race just three seconds short of Kuzmin's lead in the Asian riders' classification.
Results - Stage Five (112.4km from Kundasang to Kota Kinabalu): 1 Volodrymyr Zagorodniy (Ukr) Suren Uzbekistan Team 2:40.30s, 2 Luke Joyce (Aus) Team Plan B, 3 Blake Hose (Aus) Genesys Wealth Advisers (all same time), 4 Dadi Suryadi (Ina) Putra Perjuangan 2:40.43s, 5 Trent Morley (Aus) Team Plan B, 6 Ivan Chernyavsky (Kaz) Kazakhstan, 7 Bambang Suryadi (Ina) Polygon-Sweet Nice, 8 Valeriy Kobzarenko (Ukr) Suren Uzbekistan Team, 9 Ahmad Fahmi Farhan Ahmad Fuat (Mas) Malaysia U-23, 10 Jonathan Lovelock (Aus) Genesys Wealth Advisers (all same time);
Final standings - General classification (yellow jersey): 1 Michael Torckler (Nzl) Pure Black Racing 19:32.04s, 2 Nathan Earle (Aus) Genesys Wealth Advisers +06s, 3 Jonathan Lovelock (Aus) Genesys Wealth Advisers +44s;
Points classification (orange jersey): 1 Michael Torckler (Nzl) Pure Black Racing 52 points, 2 Volodymyr Zagorodniy (Ukr) Suren Uzbekistan Team 45, 3 Anthony Giacoppo (Aus) Genesys Wealth Advisers 38;
Mountains classification (red jersey): 1 Nathan Earle (Aus) Genesys Wealth Advisers 15 points, 2 Michael Torckler (Nzl) Pure Black Racing 13, 3 Bambang Suryadi (Ina) Polygon-Sweet Nice 12;
Asian riders' classification (blue jersey): 1 Sergey Kuzmin (Kaz) Kazakhstan 19:33.17s, 2 Tonton Susanto (Ina) Putra Perjuangan +00s, 3 Shahrul Mat Amin (Mas) Terengganu Cycling Team +03s;
Malaysian riders' classification (white jersey): 1 Shahrul Mat Amin (Mas) Terengganu Cycling Team 19:33.20s, 2 Mohd Nazri Mohamed (Mas) Kuala Lumpur +7:56s, 3 Nor Umardi Rosdi (Mas) Terengganu Cycling Team +13:43s;
Teams: 1 Genesys Wealth Advisers (Aus) 58:37.05s, 2 Putra PErjuangan (Ina) +22:24s, 3 Suren Uzbekistan Team (Uzb) +25:00s;
Asian Teams: 1 Putra PErjuangan (Ina) 58:59.29s, 2 Kazakhstan +5:45s, 3 Polygon-Sweet Nice +6:01s;
Malaysian teams: 1 Terengganu Cycling Team 59:28.00s, 2 Kuala Lumpur 60:24.29s, 3 Armed Forces +1:10.06s.