Mohd Harrif Salleh in a file photo. Racing with him for Terengganu Cycling are Anuar Manan, Adiq Husanie Othman, Mohd Saufi Mat Senan, Mohd Saiful Anuar Aziz and Mohd Zamri Salleh.
LANGKAWI: Terengganu cyclist Mohd Harrif Salleh still remembers the sweet memory of landing on the podium in the Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) for the first time in 2011 – when he finished third in the opening stage on the island.
Dazed and confused after finishing third behind South Korea’s Park Sung-baek (KSPO) and winner Andrea Guardini of Italy (Astana) that year, Harrif struggled to find the right words to explain his feelings to excited journalists at the finish line.
But today, Harrif is more articulate in expressing his feelings. And the 25-year-old feels that he is up to the challenge for a stage win in this year’s edition.
“I’m feeling good right now. In fact, I feel that my preparation is much better than last year. It was a horrible preparation last year because I was down with a toothache before the race and I could not push as hard as I wanted to,” said Harrif, who had competed in the Herald Sun Tour in Australia from Feb 5-9.
During the Christmas period, he also took part in several criteriums in Melbourne as he trained with national track cycling coach John Beasley.
Harrif was even in the mix at the final section of Stage Three of the Sun Tour, only to realise that he and several other sprinters, including Matt Goss (Orica GreenEdge), had launched their sprint too early before the finish line. Harrif ended up 23rd in that stage.
“It was funny actually. The road was slightly curvy and we thought it was already near the finish line. We just looked down and sprinted our hearts out. What we thought to be the finish line was actually the 100m to the finish mark,” said Harrif with a laughter.
Terengganu Cycling have arguably the best line-up this year since their inception in late 2010. Racing with Harrif are Anuar Manan, Adiq Husanie Othman, Mohd Saufi Mat Senan, Mohd Saiful Anuar Aziz and Mohd Zamri Salleh.
Anuar, returning to the team after his foray with Azerbaijan team Synergy Baku Cycling last year, looks set to assist Harrif in getting the stage win.
“Looking at our conditions right now, I would say Harrif would be the best bet to sprint to victory. If we were to go on a two-pronged attack – with me and Harrif – it could be difficult.
“Harrif has matured well since turning professional with the team in 2010 ... so I have faith in him,” said Anuar, the former LTdL points competition winner.