TERENGGANU-born cyclists Azizulhasni Awang and Harrif Saleh both share a similar trait — a never-say-die attitude which has brought them great success.
Terengganu Cycling Team’s (TSG) Harrif again entered the history books yesterday by becoming the first-ever Asian rider to win three stages of the Petronas Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) after topping the 130.4km seventh stage from Bagan to Alor Setar.
The 31-year-old edged Italian Matteo Pelucchi (Bardiani CSF Faizane) and Australian Taj Jones (Ara Pro Racing Sunshine Coast) in a bunch sprint finish, crossing the line in two hours, 53 minutes and 18 seconds.
Pelucchi and Jones settled for second and third, respectively.
Harrif, on Tuesday, became the first Malaysian to record two stage wins in LTdL when he triumphed in the fifth stage from Kuala Kubu Baru to Ipoh.
His maiden LTdL stage success came in the second stage of the tour last year.
The sprinter was initially lost for words following his win but went into the details once he had settled down.
“I felt confident and had the belief I could win as I had already done so a day before (Stage Five),” said Harrif.
“Today’s (yesterday) route was pretty flat, so I knew I would have a chance. Once there was space for me, I was able to pass Pelucchi and my speed was already too fast for the others to overtake me.
“I don’t know how to describe it exactly. I just feel very, very happy now, especially as this is a ProSeries event with WorldTeam and ProTeams competing here.
“It’s a big race and Malaysians want to see local riders winning it.”
Harrif remains third in the points classification (Petronas green jersey). He has moved within five points of Petronas green jersey holder Max Walscheid (NTT Pro Cycling).
Walscheid leads the Petronas green jersey competition with 47 points while Jones is second on 45, followed by Harrif (42).
“It’s hard to say whether I can go on to win the Petronas green jersey tomorrow (today) as the route is quite hilly,” added Harrif.
“I will try and collect some intermediate sprint points and hopefully place myself within the bunch if there is a sprint finish. We will see how it goes.”
As expected there were no changes in the general classification (Petronas yellow jersey) in the seventh stage yesterday.
Team Sapura Cycling’s Danilo Celano retained the Petronas yellow jersey for another day with a 26-second advantage over second-placed Yevgeniy Fedorov of Vino Astana Motors.
The stage’s flat profile also meant that there were no points on offer in the climbers’ classification (red jersey) which Sapura’s Nur Aiman Zariff leads.
The eighth and final stage will see riders covering a distance of 108.5km on Langkawi Island with the race set to start and end at Dataran Lang in Kuah.
RESULTS — Stage 7 (Bagan to Alor Setar), Stage: 1 Harrif Saleh (Mas) Terengganu Cycling Team 2:53:18s, 2 Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane, 3 Taj Jones (Aus) Ara Pro Racing Sunshine Coast, 4 Riccardo Minali (Ita) Nippo Delko Provence, 5 Luca Pacioni (Ita) Androni Giocatolli-Sidermec — all same time.
General classification (Petronas yellow jersey): 1 Danilo Celano (Ita) Team Sapura Cycling 24:10:51s, 2 Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Vino-Astana Motors +26s, 3 Artem Ovechkin (Rus) Terengganu Cycling Team +35s, 4 Pierpaolo Ficara (Ita) Team Sapura Cycling +1:07s, 5 Quentin Pacher (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept KTM +1:09s.
Asian classification (white jersey): 1 Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Vino-Astana Motors 24:11:17s, 2 Hideto Nakane (Jap) Nippo Delko Provence +1:08s, 3 Fung Ka Hoo (Team Hong Kong) +3:28s.
Points classification (Petronas green jersey): 1 Max Walscheid (Ger) NTT Pro Cycling 47pts, 2 Taj Jones (Aus) Ara Pro Racing Sunshine Coast 45, 3 Harrif Saleh (Mas) Terengganu Cycling Team 42.
Climbers classification (red jersey): 1 Nur Aiman Zariff (Mas) Team Sapura Cycling 29pts, 2 Quentin Pacher (Fra) B&B Hotels-Vital Concept KTM 20, 3 Kevin Rivera (CR) Androni Giocatelli-Sidermec 15.