KERTEH: Youngster Taj Jones timed his sprint to perfection to emerge victorious in the second stage of the Petronas Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) today.
The Pro Racing Sunshine Coast rider completed the 175.5km race from Kuala Terengganu to Kerteh in a time of four hours, five minutes and 29 seconds.
NTT Pro Cycling’s Max Walscheid came in second while B&B Hotels-Vital Concept’s Jeremy Lecroq completed the podium.
Harrif Saleh (Terengganu Cycling Team) settled for fifth in the bunch sprint finish.
Jones, 19, credited his teammates for winning Stage Two.
“It feels unbelievable, I am pretty stoked right now. Full credit to my team who supported me throughout the day,” said Jones.
“The team did well to position me on Walscheid’s wheel (for the sprint). He went early while I waited and made my run as late as possible.
“We knew we had the horsepower to deliver with people like Zack Gilmore, Stuart Shaw and Matthew Rice in the team. This result shows that we can do it.”
The peloton were forced to work hard in the early stage of the race before being able to reel in a five-man breakaway group comprising Mattia Viel (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), Rylee Field (Team Bridgelane), Alessandro Iacchi (Vini Zabu KTM), Colby Lange (Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling) and Nur Aiman Zariff (Team Sapura Cycling).
The five worked together from 20km into the stage and were caught with roughly 3km left in the race.
Vino Astana Motors and Thailand Continental Cycling Team did much of the heavy lifting at the front of the chasing peloton to preserve the advantage of their riders Yevgeniy Fedorov and Thurakit Boonratanathanakorn, who remain first and second in the general classification.
Federov was relieved to keep the Petronas yellow jersey after another tough day at the office.
“It was a very difficult stage today (yesterday), but we all stayed together throughout the race and managed to keep the jersey,” said Fedorov.
The third stage on Sunday will begin in Temerloh and end in Kuala Lumpur, covering a total distance of 162.5km.
There will be three intermediate climbs at Mentakab, Desa Bakti and Mempaga as well as three categorised climbs at Bukit Damar, Bentong and Genting Sempah.
RESULTS — Stage Two (Kuala Terengganu to Kerteh — 175.5km), Stage: 1 Taj Jones (Aus) Pro Racing Sunshine Coast 4:05:29s, 2 Max Walscheid (Ger) NTT Pro Cycling, 3 Jeremy Lecroq (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept, 4 Riccardo Minali (Ita) Nippo Delko Provence, 5 Harrif Saleh (Mas) Terengganu Cycling Team — same time.
General classification (Petronas yellow jersey): 1 Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Vino-Astana Motors 5:56:14s, 2 Thurakit Boonratanathanakorn (Tha) Thailand Continental Cycling Team +9s, 3 Taj Jones (Aus) Pro Racing Sunshine Coast +1:23s, 4 Nur Aiman Zariff (Mas) Team Sapura Cycling +1:24s.
Asian classification (white jersey): 1 Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Vino-Astana Motors 5:56:14s, 2 Thurakit Boonratanathanakorn (Tha) Thailand Continental Cycling Team +9s, 3 Nur Aiman Zariff (Mas) Team Sapura Cycling +1:24s.
Points classification (Petronas green jersey): 1 Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Vino-Astana Motors 21 pts, 2 Taj Jones (Aus) Pro Racing Sunshine Coast 19, 3 Max Walscheid (Ger) NTT Pro Cycling 19.