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Tuesday August 20, 2013 MYT 5:57:00 PM
Tuesday August 20, 2013 MYT 6:00:00 PM
by shamshul fitri
Mohd Zamri Salleh (right) helping his brother Mohd Harrif before Tuesday's Stage Three race of the Tour of Borneo. – Bernama Photo
KOTA KINABALU: Mohd Harrif Salleh grabbed his second win of the season after sprinting to victory in the 132.6km Stage Three of the Tour of Borneo from Penampang to here Tuesday.
The stage was tailor-made for sprinters, with just a Category Four (166m) climb at the halfway mark and the Terengganu Cycling rider crossed the line in 3’20:39 in a bunch sprint.
Points classification leader Anuar Manan (Synergy Baku Cycling) took second place to hang on to the green jersey while Harrif’s older brother and team-mate, Mohd Zamri, was third.
It was a close call for Harrif as overall leader Mehdi Sohrabi of Tabriz Petrochemical took off early, with 2km to go, in a bid to repeat his feat on Monday when he won solo on a thin margin.
Mehdi finished fourth with the same time to retain the lead.
Luckily, Harrif got his calculation right as he sent out team-mate Saiful Anuar Aziz together with Mehdi.
“It was a gamble, actually. If Mehdi had not stalled behind Saiful, he could have won it. But we managed to close the gap quickly and it was left to us to sprint for the win,” said Harrif, whose maiden win this year was in the Jelajah Malaysia in June.
Tabriz set out on a tempo ride from the beginning and only allowed a break of three riders.
After 10km of racing, Mohd Rauf Nur Misbah (Malaysia), Endra Wijaya (Customs Cycling Club) and Chang Wei Kei (RTS Racing) managed to break away.
“We thought of going all the way until the finish, but when Chang’s tyre punctured, that left only the two of us ... it was really difficult,” said Endra, who now leads the mountain classification with four points.
Tabriz then set a fierce tempo and caught the pair after the Category Four climb in Tamparuli.
Soon after, Rustom Lim of LBC Cycling went into a solo attack but the Filipino was reeled in with 15km left.
Just as the peloton reached the last 10km, the cyclists began to attack.
Tabriz, however, managed to hold it all together until the last 2km,when Mehdi launched an attack of his own.
“I tried to repeat what I did yesterday, when I attacked close to the finish and won the stage. But I made a mistake of waiting behind a Terengganu rider (Saiful),” said Mehdi.
Anuar, who is slowly coming into form after resting since May with a back injury, then found his pace to finish second in the bunch sprint.
“I felt good in the sprint but I still feel the legs are a bit heavy after the long rest. If there’s a chance to win the final stage, I’ll grab it. For now, it’s all about getting back to form,” he said.
Tags / Keywords:
cycling, Tour of Borneo, Mohd Harrif Salleh, Mohd Zamri Salleh, Mehdi Sohrabi, Tabriz Petrochemical, Saiful Anuar Aziz
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