Bunch Sprint Opens Tour de LangkawiThu 21 Feb 2013
Tour de Langkawi delivered on the projected bunch sprint on stage one of the Malaysian Tour. A three rider escape group dominated the early action before Theo Bos (Blanco) handily took the stage win. Although ORICA-GreenEDGE made their presence known in the closing kilometres, Aidis Kruopis was unable to unleash the full force of his sprint in the finale.
“I didn’t see the race, so I have to rely on reports from the team,” said Sport Director Matt Wilson. “They said they moved to the front with ten kilometres to go. Wes Sulzberger was the first from the team to take over at the front of the bunch. They said they stayed together well and put Aidis in a really good position, but it just didn’t quite happen the way we would have liked today.”
The peloton set off from Kangar under blue skies and sunshine. As neutral racing gave way to the official start, Meiyin Wang (Hengxiang), Ho Jun Rong (OCBC) and Shinichi Fukushima (Nippo) broke away from the bunch. The trio steadily increased their lead to a maximum of 10:40 in the opening hour of racing.
“It was a pretty standard day today,” said Wilson. “The course was more or less dead flat with a couple of really small climbs. The break went. The field chased. Teams lined it up for the sprint in the end.”
Blanco, Astana and Vini Fantini assumed control for the chase. They made the catch around ten kilometres. Teams hoping to have an impact in the sprint jostled for control at the front as the peloton barrelled toward Kulim.
“There were two tricky corners in the last kilometre,” noted Wilson. “Aidis was fourth wheel at 300 metres. He just didn’t have it today.”
Theo Bos (Blanco) won stage one ahead of Bryan Coquard (Europcar) and Andrea Guardini (Astana). Bos will start stage two in the leader’s jersey. Kruopis was the team’s top finisher in 12th place. While the team had hoped for a better result, Wilson praised their efforts.
“We wanted the sprint to go differently, but the team did a good job other than that,” said Wilson. “Tomorrow’s stage will likely be a sprint again. The boys will try again and give us every chance for a stage win.”