JASIN: They are down but definitely not out of the competition yet.
Malaysia’s continental team Le Tua have lost the yellow jersey worn by Colombian Libardo Nino Corredor after Jonnatha Monsalve of Androni Giocattoli came back from a two-second deficit to currently lead by two seconds in the individual general classification.
Le Tua rider Ng Yong Li said that they could not prevent Monsalve from sprinting to second place in two intermediate sprints yesterday as nobody among the points classification were interested to take the points.
“We have set the pace up front together with Drapac (Professional) but none of the sprinters among the points classification went up to score the points,” he said.
“Monsalve saw the opportunity and took it. We are now facing an uphill task to regain the yellow jersey with just two stages left.”
Heavy downpour since the start of the race in Kuala Pilah, coupled with undulating terrain made it harder for the team to defend their two-second lead going into the eighth stage yesterday.
Meanwhile, team manager Shukor Yassin said that Le Tua suffered another blow when their Australian rider, Samuel Paul Witmitz, pulled out from the race after suffering from breathing problems just 50km after the start.
The team had lost Spaniard Vidal Celis Zabala in the fourth stage (Ayer Tawar-Cameron Highlands) after he was disqualified from the race.
“We have to rely on three local riders in the team to bring Corredor back up the general classification. It will be a tough task but we won’t give up easily,” said Shukor.
“We will try to let Corredor win time bonuses tomorrow to improve on his time in the standings. Even though we are down to four riders, Corredor is still fired up to fight for the yellow jersey.”
Besides Yong Li, other Malaysians in the team are Mohd Razif Salleh and Adrian Chuah Wye Kit.