PETALING JAYA: Malaysian cyclist Mohd Harrif Saleh become the first Asian to win two stages of the Le Tour de Langkawi when the Terengganu Inc-TSG rider won a bunch sprint clocking 3’39:42 to bag Stage Five of the race from Kuala Kubu Baru to Ipoh.
The 31-year-old beat Stage Three winner Max Walscheid of the NTT Pro Cycling Team with a powerful final kick inside the last 200m, with Bardiani-CSF’s Matteo Pelucchi taking the third spot, yesterday.
Harrif, who registered his first-ever win in the race in Stage Two of the LTdL from Senawang to Melaka last year, said he was confident about his form although he had just recovered from a nerve injury that affected the sight in his right eye.
“I am in my best form and I came to this race with good preparation and support from all my teammates, the staff, my family... everyone helped me get to this form, ” said Harrif after the race.
“I knew the lanky Walscheid would be a challenge, but I had no problem getting into position to launch my sprint. The sprinters know me so I was given space and my teammates helped me get into a good position for the sprint.
“It was quite a serious injury. It affected the nerve in my right eye and I had trouble seeing through that eye. Even now, it isn’t fully cured and doctors have told me I will never get back to 100%. The vision from my right eye is still blurred, but it isn’t too much of a problem.”
The result moved Harrif up to third in the points classification with 27 points, behind Walscheid who still leads with 46 points and Australian Taj Jones with 36 points.
Team Sapura Cycling’s Danilo Celano did not have face much of a threat to his overall lead and comfortably retained the yellow jersey by finishing in the safety of the bunch, as teammate Mohd Nur Aiman Mohd Zariff also retained the mountains classification lead with no categorised climb slotted in yesterday’s stage.
Vino-Astana Motors’ Yevgeniy Fedorov also retained the white jersey as the leading Asian rider.
Stage Six today will be a little trickier, covering a 150.9km distance from Taiping to Penang, and the race will head westward upon entering the island to complete a round-island tour before the finish line in Georgetown.
STAGE FIVE RESULTS
Kuala Kubu Bharu town to Meru Raya (165.8km): 1.Mohd Harrif Saleh (Mas) Terengganu Inc. TSG Cycling Team 3’39:42,2. Max Walscheid (Ger) NTT Pro Cycling Team, 3. Matteo Pelucchi (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane, 4.Andre Looij (Ned) Ssois Miogee Cycling Team, 5.Taj Jones (Aus) Ara Pro Racing Sunshine Coast, 6.Luca Pacioni (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec, 7.Ahmet Orken (Tur) Team Sapura Cycling, 8.Tristan Ward (Aus) Team BridgeLane, 9.Anuar Manan (Mas) Malaysia National team, 10. Gleb Brussenskiy (Kaz) Vino-Astana Motors all same time.
Yellow Jersey (Overall Leader): 1.Danilo Celano (Ita) Team Sapura Cycling 17’48:10s, 2.Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Vino-Astana Motors 17’48:40,3.Artem Ovechkin (Rus) Terengganu Inc. TSG Cycling Team 17’48.45.
Green Jersey (Best Sprinter): 1.Max Walscheid (Ger) NTT Pro Cycling Team 46pts, 2.Taj Jones (Aus) Ara Pro Racing Sunshine Coast 36pts, 3.Mohd Harrif Salleh (Mas) Terengganu Inc. TSG Cycling Team 27pts.
Red Jersey (King of Mountain): 1.Mohd Nur Aiman Mohd Zariff (Mas) Team Sapura Cycling 29pts, 2.Kevin Rivera (Crc) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec 15pts, 3.Rylee Field (AUS) Team BridgeLane 14pts
White Jersey (Best Asian Rider): 1.Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Vino-Astana Motors 17’48:40,2.Hideto Nakane (Jpn) Nippo Delko Provence 17’50:02,3. Fung Ka Hoo (Hkg) HKSI Pro Cycling Team 17’52:04
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