IPOH: Team Lampre's Brazilian sprint king Mendonca Pagliarini won a second straight stage in the Tour of Langkawi yesterday, coming out tops in the third stage from Kulim to Ipoh. But it has not been his show so far.
On Saturday, he was overshadowed by two crashes, then he had to fight off a protest after being accused of impeding an opponent. Yesterday, he found himself still out of the leader's list despite his two wins.
His first win, in the second stage from Kangar to Butterworth on Saturday, was marred by the two crashes, which took place within the last 300m of the finishing line. All riders were credited with the same time of 3'32:55.
The first crash, involving some 20 riders, did not see any serious injuries but the second, some 50m from the end, took several riders out. Charles Dionne of Team Saturn, David McKenzie of team Flanders and Koki Shimbo of Japan were seriously injured and were rushed to a nearby hospital for treatment.
Pagliarini's second win yesterday also saw a photo finish and all riders were credited with the same time, leaving stage one winner, Saturn's Nathan O'Neill, hanging on to the overall lead with Canada's Ronald Green second. Pagliarini has yet to break into the top 10.
“It was absolutely crazy in there,” said O'Neill of the crashes on Saturday. “Everyone was so tensed up about winning that they forgot everything else.”
The 24-year-old Pagliarini, meanwhile, was accused of impeding Panaria Ceramiche's Graeme Brown but vehemently denied any wrongdoing. “The accusation is absolutely not true,” he said. “I sprinted from a long way off and I had already overtaken him (Brown) when I was accused of closing the door.”
Yesterday, though, he had reason to smile as he sprinted clear of the huge peloton who hurtled done the finishing straight in Ipoh to hang on the green jersey for top sprinter.
“At first, the sprint was a bit chaotic - just like yesterday (Saturday) - but then it all unfolded perfectly for me. Everyone was fighting like crazy to be up front on the run-in but my team looked after me perfectly and didn't miss anything. They were all confident I could make it two-in-a-row and they got me into the right position to make it happen.”
The Iranians were on a roll yesterday, with Hossain Askari hanging on to the blue jersey of best Asian rider overall while Hassan Maleki Mizan was the only Asian featured in the top 10.
They still lead the list of Asian teams with Team Telekom in second place.
“We were delighted with that result,” said Hossain. “We don't even have our best rider on the squad. Ghader Mizbani is guesting on the Telekom Malaysia team.”
Telekom’s Indonesian rider Tonton Susanto remains the home team’s best, taking second place while Ghader is fourth. Tsen Seong Hoong, who is also representing Team Telekom, is in 10th place.
Today’s Stage Four will cover a distance of 172.9km from Grik to Tanah Merah, Kelantan.