Another Fourth Place Finish for Aidis Kruopis in MalaysiaSat 1 Mar 2014
Aidis Kruopis notched another fourth place finish at the Tour de Langkawi as Andrea Guardini (Astana) overcome a serious foot injury sustained in a crash yesterday to claim victory on stage three. Theo Bos (Belkin) finished second to the Italian while Yannick Martinez (Europcar) snagged the final spot on the podium.
“The boys did a really good lead-out for Aidis,” said Sport Director Matt Wilson. “Brett [Lancaster] dropped Aidis off inside 200 metres. Aidis said he waited just a fraction too long. Guardini and the others got the jump first and took the first few pedal strokes before Aidis started his sprint.”
“He’s super disappointed,” Wilson added. “Aidis had a really good opportunity today and made a small mistake which cost him the win. There are possibly six more bunch sprints left, so he has plenty more chances.”
The stage began with the customary escape group breaking clear from the peloton. The quintet that took shape proved strong with Matt Brammeier (Synergy Baku) perhaps the most dangerous. Brammeier, third overall at 24”, became the virtual leader on the road and scooped up bonus seconds at intermediate sprints, signalling his intent to challenge for the leader’s jersey ahead of tomorrow's mountainous stage.
Team Colombia initially put three riders on the front to defend Duber Quintero’s overall lead. When the three proved incapable of shutting down the break, they added firepower from another two. With the gap hovering around the five minute mark, despite Colombia’s efforts, teams with an interest in the sprint lent a hand to the chase. Sixty kilometres from the finish, ORICA-GreenEDGE, Katusha and Belkin moved to the head of affairs. Astana and Androni added riders as the finish line loomed and the gap remained.
“The break rode really, really strong today,” said Wilson. “A lot of teams had to help after Colombia blew. We were one of the teams to step up. Even with the combined efforts of four or five teams, we only got them back with two kilometres to go.”
After three flatter stages, the Tour de Langkawi heads to the highlands where the overall contenders will come out to play. Pieter Weening has been patiently biding his time to leave his mark up the stage four summit finish. Second overall last year, Weening is quietly motivated to go one better this year.
“Tomorrow is Pieter’s day,” said Wilson. “He's going good. There are a few other guys that are looking pretty good as well, so we’ll see how it goes – but he’s in the right position to get a good result.”