Duber Quintero of team Colombia finished the opening stage of the Le Tour de Langkawi in 2’21:40, just 11 seconds ahead of Matt Brammeier of Ireland (Synergy Baku Cycling) and Jonathan Clarke (Australia) of UnitedHealthcare. – Bernama Photo
LANGKAWI: Colombian rider Duber Quintero took a surprise win from a four-man breakaway group in the opening stage of Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL).
The 23-year-old of team Colombia finished the stage in 2’21:40, just 11 seconds ahead of Matt Brammeier of Ireland (Synergy Baku Cycling) and Jonathan Clarke (Australia) of UnitedHealthcare. Another breakaway companion Goh Choon Huat of Singapore (OCBC Singapore) finished 15 seconds behind.
Terengganu Cycling sprinter Anuar Manan took sixth spot behind Andrea Guardini of Italy (Astana), 1:18 back in the main group.
With the stage win, Quintero took on the leader’s yellow jersey. It will be tricky for the peloton to have a Colombian, renowed for their climbing abilities, leading the race considering the Genting Highlands stage (Stage Four) has yet to come.
“I’m very surprised to win today because I didn’t expect the breakaway to get to the finish line in one piece. As we approached the final kilometres, I decided to make a push for it and luckily I was the strongest today,” said Quintero.
Action in the 101.1km stage began early with Quintero, Clarke, Choon Huat, Brammeier and Saiful Anuar Aziz (Terengganu) creating a gap after just two kilometres of racing. The peloton was more than happy to let the quintet go, pegging them at a seven-minute gap.
After the 55km mark, Saiful decided to return to the peloton. Teams with sprinters eyeing the stage victory like Astana (Guardini), Orica GreenEdge (Aidis Kruopis) and Belkin (Theo Bos) made their way to the front of the peloton and tried to reel in the remaining quartet but with 25km of the race remaining, the breakaway still had a healthy 5:08 gap, denying a successful chase from the peloton.
“It is quite common to see a stand-off between a breakaway and the peloton in the first stage of races. I wasn’t really surprised we made it to the finish line first,” said Brammeier, the Ireland national champion.
Despite handing over the race lead to a Colombian as early as in the first stage, Synergy Baku sporting director Jeremy Hunt believes the chase is still on for the contenders.
“We don’t know much about the guy (Quintero) and probably that was why he was let off the hook today.
“If he’s a good climber, then those interested in the overall win might be in a little trouble because he could just ride off atop Genting. But I think he doesn’t hold enough advantage for now. He needs at least 10 minutes to be in a comfortable position at the lead,” said Hunt, a former Sky rider.