Aidis Kruopis Rounds Out the Podium on Tour de Langkawi Stage NineFri 7 Mar 2014
Aidis Kruops sprinted to third on the penultimate stage of the Tour de Langkawi. He adds the result to his pair of second places and a pair of fourth places. Although he has yet to snag the coveted stage win, Kruopis tops the points classification leader board because of his consistent results.
“It’s a little frustrating – these constant seconds and thirds and fourths,” said Sport Director Matt Wilson. “We’ve been discussing at length what do and whether or not it’s worth trying to change the game plan, but we’re all pretty convinced that what we’re doing is the right thing – it’s just a matter of getting it right.”
“We have a strange mix of riders here,” said Wilson. “We have guys coming back from injury and guys focused on the overall classification and a huge range of experience amongst our six rider squad. The sprints have been a big challenge for us. I have confidence in the team, and the team has confidence in Aidis. We have one last chance to get it right tomorrow.”
A two rider break dominated the early action of the 111 kilometre day. Carlos Quintero (Colombia) and Yonnatta Monsalve (Yellow Fluo) joined forces up the road. The duo represented a threat to the overall lead of Mirsamad Poorseyedigolakhour (Tabriz Petrochemical) with Quintero at 1’46 in 11th place and Monsalve one spot further back at 2’14.
“There was a bit of attacking at the beginning, but it didn’t last long,” said Wilson. “The two guys that went up the road are on the general classification. It was perfect for us because it meant Tabriz would ride on the front again all day.”
Tabriz kept the two leaders on a short leash, never allowing them more than a two minute advantage. Towards the end of the stage, Astana and Androni Gioattoli moved to the head of affairs to assist in the last bit of work needed to shut down the breakaway. Twelve kilometres from the finish, Quintero and Monsalve were back in the bunch.
A crash once again disrupted the sprint as a number of riders hit the ground, and many more were caught behind the carnage. While the ORICA-GreenEDGE riders escaped the incident unscathed, Kruopis lost all but Brett Lancaster as his lead-out.
“We’ve been very lucky with crashes this week,” said Wilson. “We weren’t involved at all today, but the guys were impeded by the crash, which really impacted our chances in the sprint. We hadn’t done any work all day, so the guys were really fresh. They were ready to pounce. Everyone was lined up when the crash happened right in front of them. Aidis and Brett were the only ones to make it through in the front group.”
Theo Bos (Belkin) took his third straight stage win, his fourth of the Malaysian Tour. Guardini was second across the line, and Kruopis rounded out the podium. Despite the crash, Esteban Chaves finished on bunch time. He retains his firm hold on fourth overall, 20” behind race leader Poorseyedigolakhour.