Crashes Mar Tour de Langkawi Stage Two SprintFri 28 Feb 2014
Aidis Kruopis was again the top finisher for ORICA-GreenEDGE at the Tour de Langkawi. The Lithuanian finished just off the podium on the second stage of the Malaysian Tour. Theo Bos (Belkin) emerged victorious from the crash-filled finale ahead of his teammate and last lead-out man Graeme Brown while Marco Haller (Katusha) rounded out the podium. Pieter Weening finished on bunch time and remains well-positioned for his overall ambitions.
“Aidis was coming into the finish in a good position,” said Sport Director Matt Wilson. “He got a little crossed up going into the one of the corners. He lost some speed and that was finish done. It was such a crazy and dangerous finish. He didn’t get a clean run to the line.
“No one went down,” said Wilson. “No one lost time. That was the main thing. We were lucky. A lot of teams had a lot of guys on the floor.”
The mayhem in Taiping belied the mild start to the stage with the early break slipping away from the gun. Five riders quickly got to work to distance themselves from the peloton, building up a maximum advantage of 5’35 before Team Colombia began to give chase for race leader Carlos Quintero.
“The break went straight away and the right teams were present,” said Wilson. “Colombia controlled for most of the day. The sprint teams took over near the end. It was a completely straightforward day until we got to the finish – and then it was crazy. It was totally crazy. There were three or four crashes in the last kilometre.”
The combination of narrow roads, tight corners and gusts of wind proved dangerous for the fresh, eager bunch. Nearly a quarter of the field was involved in a crash. Several riders were removed from the course by ambulance.
“The course was one factor,” said Wilson. “Another factor is the different levels of experience and quality within the field. There are a lot of smaller teams here, who don’t have the experience of some of the bigger teams – and that variance can cause havoc.”
“Plus, everyone is fresh,” Wilson added. “It’s the start of the tour. Yesterday was an easy stage. Today was fairly easy, too. That means there are a lot more guys that want to get to the front.”