Italian Andrea Guardini jubilant after winning Stage Three of Le Tour de Langkawi. It was his first win of the season for Astana. – Bernama Photo
KUALA LUMPUR: Italian Andrea Guardini overcame the pain from a crash on Friday to win the 166.5km Stage Three from Kampar to Kuala Lumpur in the Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL).
The team Astana sprinter, who had a deep cut on his left foot after the shunt in the final kilometre of Friday’s 132.5km stage, pipped Dutchman Theo Bos of team Belkin and Europcar rider Yannick Martinez of France at the finish line in Dataran Merdeka to win in 3’40:38 on Saturday. Bos and Martinez were credited with the same time.
It was an important win for Guardini as it was his 13th LTdL victory and the first of the season for Astana.
Race leader Duber Quintero of Colombia finished in the big bunch and was credited with the same time. He will continue to defend the yellow jersey to Genting Highlands on Sunday.
“At first I did think about pulling out from the race because of my injury. But after much thought, I decided to see how it goes first in the race,” said Guardini.
“I did feel some pain in the early stages of the race but in the final 20km, I felt that I could go for the sprint and asked my team-mates to put me in a good position for it.”
A flurry of attacks went from the gun but the wide roads and relatively flat terrain made it hard to make an early break.
The break of the day was established only after 20km of racing.
Patrick Facchini (Androni), Matt Brammeier (Synergy Baku), Mohd Saufi Mat Senan (Terengganu Cycling), Ho Junrong (OCBC Singapore) and Bradley White (UnitedHealthcare) took off at that point and the peloton, headed by team Colombia, just let them loose.
Soon after, Facchini dropped back to the peloton due to a mechanical problem after 8km into the break. The remaining quintet managed to enjoy a six-minute gap.
Determined not to be led by Brammeier, who was just 24 seconds behind Quintero in the overall standings before the start of the stage, team Colombia organised a chase on their own.
And Quintero is hoping his Colombia team-mates have the resolve to defend the lead up Genting on Sunday after their energy-sapping effort in controlling the peloton on Saturday.
“They did a lot of work today before the sprinters team like Belkin and Orica GreenEdge took over reeling in the breakaway.
“The true test will be tomorrow in Genting where we will try to keep the yellow jersey,” said Quintero.