Breakaway Contests Opening Stage of Tour de LangkawiThu 27 Feb 2014
Duber Quintero (Colombia) took a solo victory in Langkawi, out-smarting his four breakaway companions to the line on the first stage of the Tour de Langkawi. Andrea Guardini (Astana) won the field sprint for fifth place, 1’18 behind Quintero. Aidis Kruopis was the top finisher for ORICA-GreenEDGE in tenth place.
“Aidis is here for stage wins, so he wasn’t really interested in the bunch kick,” said Sport Director Matt Wilson. “We’re not looking at the points jersey, so we didn’t have a reason to fully contest the sprint.”
Quintero, Matt Brammeier (Synergy Baku), Jonathan Clarke (Unitedhealthcare), Haut Choon Goh (OCBC Singapore) and Anwar Aziz (Terengganu Cycling Team) escaped early on and quickly got to work in stretching out their advantage. The quintet managed a seven minute gap on the 100 kilometre stage.
“After the breakaway went from the start, there were a lot of guys look at each other to chase,” explained Wilson. “Some teams tried. The Fluo yello team gave it a bit of an effort. Astana chased for awhile. We settled in at the front and did a bit of riding ourselves. The break got a good gap, and in the end, there weren’t enough teams committed to bringing it back.”
“Damien Howson did a great job on the front,” added Wilson. “He’s a bit of a standout for me today. He rode for 40 kilometres alone on the front. He may not have succeeded in bringing back the break, but it was a great effort.”
Overall contender Pieter Weening, second last year on the general classification, finished on bunch time. After the opening stage, Weening’s ambitions for the overall remain intact.
“I wouldn’t expect that the guys we lost time to today would get within two minutes of the climbers who will contend for the overall up Genting,” said Wilson. “It’s actually a pretty good situation for us now. The Colombians will be quite happy to control the jersey, and the GC is a bit sorted out.”
While the weather at the Tour of Langkawi typically plays a role in the race, the early start on the first stage ensured the heat would have minimal impact. Wilson knows the bunch may not be as lucky over the remaining nine days of racing.
“The weather here is always a factor,” noted Wilson. “Last year we had a lot of rain on top of the heat, which was a challenge. Apparently this year has been one of the hottest years on record. Today was a pretty early start in the morning, so the guys missed most of the heat but the heat will be bigger factor on other stages.”
The peloton moves to the mainland for the second stage, which is another flat affair. With dual ambitions at the Malaysian Tour, ORICA-GreenEDGE will look to set Kruopis up for the sprint while helping Weening conserve energy in the bunch.