IPOH: The Stage One results of the Tour of Langkawi from the Penang International Sports Arena in Bayan Baru to Taiping were annulled by the Communique of the College of Commissires due to traffic intrusion.
The race ended when the 138 riders decided that it was too risky to stage a sprint finish. Instead all of them rode together across the finish line on the last lap.
“What happened was, we came through the first lap and everything looked great. But once the first lap was completed the road was opened to normal traffic although the race was still on.
“We had no choice but to neutralise the race. All riders accepted the decision and offered to do another lap. It was a professional decision,” said Race Controller Alen Rushton at a press conference after the race.
He added that the neutralisation of the race would see all riders having equal times of two hours 35:09 seconds for the stage and there would be no stage winner.
Despite the unfortunate incident, especially for the sprinters, Asian riders rose to the challenge with a majestic performance by monopolising the winner's podium.
Debutants, the Philippines, represented by their Trade Team Three, Pagcor-Casino rider Mercuho Ramos took the Yellow Jersey as the race leader, while his teammate Lloyd Lucien Reynate took the Red and Blue for the Asian competition.
“Things like this happen. I don't want to talk about my strategy for tomorrow's race but I just want to focus on winning the Asian category,” said Ramos.
Ramos lead the sprint event twice in the second (Bagan Serai) and third (Kamunting) sprint sections.
Chinese rider, Zhu Yongbiao was initially the sprint competition winner and should have taken the Blue Jersey as he collected the highest points.
But when the results were annulled, points and bonuses for the stage one race were withdrawn.
“I'm glad that my riders could match the bigger names in the Tour. It's a major boost to us as the first professional team in the Philippines,” said team manager Ric Rodriguez.
The 10-day race will proceed to stage two from Ipoh to Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands today , a distance of 151.6km. It will be the first mountain test for the riders. (Route map on Page 46)
Meanwhile, First Cartel (M) Sdn Bhd, Executive Chairman Datuk Wan Lokman Wan Ibrahim said the incident did not happen at the start or the finish line.
“The Tour was intruded by normal traffic when the riders were making their final lap around the Taman Tasik Taiping. We do not know how normal traffic had managed to intrude,” he said.
Traffic Warden for the Tour DSP Mohd Khalil Mohd Kadir was also lost for an explanation as to what had happened. – Bernama