Aidis Kruopis Retains Points Classification Lead at Tour de LangkawiThu 6 Mar 2014
Stage eight of the Tour de Langkawi ended in another crash-marred field sprint. Aidis Kruopis managed sixth place in Marang while Theo Bos (Belkin) took the win. The ORICA-GreenEDGE sprinter retains his hold on the points classification jersey with two stages remaining in the ten day Malaysian tour.
“It’s a bit of a disappointment for us,” admitted Sport Director Matt Wilson. “We’re really keen to get a stage win, so hopefully these next two days go better for us.”
Following two blistering fast stages, the peloton was much more subdued heading out from the start town of Kuantan. The breakaway of the day took shape in the opening kilometres as Anwar Manan (Terengganu), Morgan Lamoisson, Choon Huat Goh (OCBC Singapore), Zhi Hui Jiang (Giant Champion System) and Elchin Asadov (Synergy Baku) slipped up the road. Manan’s team called him back to save his legs for the sprint and Goh fell off pace. The remaining trio built up their advantage to 4’10 over the peloton.
“The break went really quickly,” noted Wilson. “None of the major teams were present, so we were happy to let them go. It was a pretty mild start compared to most days. Tabriz decided to ride on the front, which was a strange decision but a good one for us because it meant we didn’t have to do any work.”
When Tabriz proved unable or unwilling to fully shut down the breakaway, Belkin took to the front to finish the job. The Dutch squad quickly reduced the gap between the peloton and the leaders, and 11 kilometres from the finish, the race was back together. As soon as the catch had been made, the attacks began.
“After the break was caught, we focused on looking after Aidis for the finish,” Wilson explained. “It got a bit out of control at the end with so many attacks. Sam [Bewley] had to do quite a lot of work to cover those moves. Eventually it finally settled down.”
Inside the final three kilometres, a crash took down at least ten riders, several of whom required medical attention. The incident halved the peloton, and a reduced bunch powered toward the finish. Bos was the first to open up the sprint, and handily held off his challengers as Kruopis struggled to find a clean line.
“None of us were involved in the crash,” said Wilson. “We were quite lucky.”
Although race leader Mirsamad Poorseyedigolakhour (Tabriz Petrochemical) was involved in the pile-up, the three kilometre rule allowed him to receive the same time as the bunch. The Iranian remains in the race lead, 20” ahead of ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Esteban Chaves, who sits in fourth place overall.