Aidis Kruopis Wins Tour of Langkawi Points ClassificationSat 8 Mar 2014
ORICA-GreenEDGE’s Aidis Kruopis won the Tour de Langkawi points classification after sprinting to second on final stage of the Malaysian Tour. Throughout the ten days of racing, Kruopis notched three seconds, one third and two fourths. While the top step remained elusive, Kruopis’ consistency was enough to keep him in the blue jersey during the second half of the race.
“It was a good week,” said Kruopis. “There were plenty of chances in the sprints. I was there every time but unfortunately I wasn’t quick enough. There were two chances where I was really close on the line, but the win didn’t happen. We came here to win, so I’m a little disappointed.”
“It was good to have the points jersey,” Kruopis added. “It’s good publicity for the team and it shows that I was there in the sprints.”
Esteban Chaves was the best-placed ORICA-GreenEDGE rider on the general classification. In his first stage race in over a year, the young Colombian narrowly missed the overall podium. He slotted into fourth overall, 20” behind race leader Mirsamad Poorseyedigolakhour (Tabriz Petrochemical).
“Our race objective was to win stages,” said Sport Director Matt Wilson. “We came here targeting two stage wins. We definitely didn’t succeed on that front. Even though we weren’t targeting the points jersey, it was a good consolation prize and a just reward for the teamwork we put into each day.”
“We’re very happy with Esteban’s fourth place,” Wilson added. “That was fantastic and well beyond our expectations of him. We missed out on the stage wins, but we’re not walking away empty handed.”
The early action was dominated by the breakaway. Brett Lancaster initially found himself in a three rider escape group. It seemed improbable that the trio would stay away and Lancaster rejoined the peloton, leaving Antoine Duchesne (Europcar) and Jonathan Monsalve (Yello Fluo) alone up the road.
“Brett was covering moves, and he ended up there,” explained Wilson. “When he realized there was no need to be in the break, he dropped back. We needed him for the finish.”
“Chaves had a go before Brett’s break went away,” Wilson added. “He wanted to try to get some time back. There weren’t enough people interested in making it hard, so the effort didn’t amount to anything.”
Tabriz and Astana assumed responsibility for the chase. The peloton caught the two leaders on the last of three circuit laps, and the sprint trains readied for the finale.
“The guys did a really good lead-out,” said Wilson. “They came together from two kilometres. We don’t have the strongest or most experienced train here. Even though we got it right, we didn’t have as much horse power as we needed.”
Andrea Guardini (Astana) narrowly edged out Kruopis for the stage ten victory. Francisco Chicchi (Yellow Fluo) rounded out the stage podium.