Feb 24, 2017

Jakub Mareczko avenges Filippo Pozzato in stage 3

The riders starts form Serdang

Jakub Mareczko takes the win at Pantai Remis

Scott Sunderland of UnitedHealthcare came 2nd while TSG's Zamri Saleh came 3rd

Leaders after stage 3

PANTAI REMIS : Jakub “Kuba” Mareczko gave Wilier Triestina their first victory of the 2017 season in stage 3 of Le Tour de Langkawi at Pantai Remis the day after his team-mate Filippo Pozzato came close. The diminutive Italian outsprinted stage 1 winner Scott Sunderland who moved into the lead of the points classification whereas Ryan Gibbons of South Africa retained the yellow jersey ahead of the queen stage to the Cameron Highlands.
“Finally I broke the ice”, Mareczko commented. “The whole team was dedicated to bring me to victory. I’m grateful to my team-mates for that. Pozzato, [Alberto] Cecchin and [Rafael] Andriato dragged me to the first positions of the peloton and I could launch my sprint with 400 metres to go.”
Tipped for being the “new Andrea Guardini” [in reference to the 22-time stage winner at LTdL], Mareczko won by a length of a bike over Sunderland. “It was difficult with a lot of people moving up all the time ahead of the sprint as everyone was fresh”, the Australian explained. “I’ve started my sprint from a long way back as I was out of position. I came from 25th wheel at 300m to go while he [Mareczko] was third wheel with 200m to go. His team here is built around him while mine has four guys out of six who are strong in the climbs. They have to protect themselves for GC so I have to ride solo and use other teams.”
Dimension Data did most of the pace at the helm of the peloton behind escape artist Loh Sea Keong (Thailand Continental Team) who was accompanied by Stepan Astafyev (Vino Astana Motors) and Dominic Perez (7/11) with a maximum lead of five minutes.
“In the last two kilometers, I nearly fell about three times”, race leader Gibbons informed. “So my head wasn’t in it. About 200 metres to go, I tried to come out and I just went backwards. Hopefully I can find my head again for the upcoming stages. My team rode all day because they had a lot of faith in me and I was confident in myself. Jacques Janse van Rensburg sat at the front of the peloton by himself for 90 kilometres. I’m sorry to have let the team down. It just wasn’t my day.”
Gibbons added that, being realistic, he expects stage 4 to be his final day in the yellow jersey as his team-mates Mekseb Debesay from Eritrea and Ben O’Connor from Australia will take the team’s leadership over from him. Colombians are set to fill the shoes of their compatriot Miguel Angel “Superman” Lopez who was a brilliant stage winner in the Cameron Highlands one year ago.

Feb 23, 2017

Travis McCabe ruins Gibbons and Pozzato’s dreams

Top 3 of Stage 2 in Gerik

New Leaders after Stage 2

GERIK, Thursday, 23 February 2017 : American outfit Unitedhealthcare continued its winning streak at Le Tour de Langkawi with Travis McCabe outsprinting Filippo Pozzato and Ryan Gibbons who became the new race leader on the slightly downhill finish in Gerik in the state of Perak in northern Malaysia. They previously won a stage in 2014 with Bradley White and in 2016 with John Murphy.
Exactly like Murphy one year ago, McCabe lined up at LTdL fresh from a stage win at the Herald Sun Tour in Australia. “We came here with the ambition to win”, the American sprinter said at the post-race press conference. “We really wanted to work on the lead out train that we have. I wasn’t trying to fill the shoes of Murphy but it’s great to do the same as him. For me, today, it was all about patience. We showed yesterday that we had the lead out train and the power to take me to the line but I made a mistake by going way too early. Today I went into a small break before the category 1 climb to make it easier when Manzana really hit it on the climb.”
It was a long but eventful day of racing from the East Coast to the jungle via the Titiwangsa Range. It started with a crash involving Pozzato and taking Terengganu’s sprinter Harrif Saleh out of the race as he hit a rock. 49 kilometres were covered in the first hour, making it impossible for anyone to escape from the peloton but a group of 16 riders eventually rode away but the presence of the likes of Jacques Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data), Bernardo Suaza (Manzana-Postobon) and Robbie Hucker (IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness) forced Androni Giocattoli to chase. Attracted by the King of the Mountains competition after losing hopes of winning the overall classification after a crash in stage 1, John Ebsen (Infinite AIS) went on his own 90km before the finish in order to score important points atop Titiwangsa. The selective terrain reduced the bunch to fifty riders only.
Italy’s Pozzato was close to add his name to the record of stage winners at Gerik after his prestigious compatriots Gianni Bugno in 1997 and Rinaldo Nocentini in 1999 but McCabe outclassed him at the very end of a tight finish. “My day started with a crash while I was in the middle of road at the back of the peloton in order to not risk anything”, Pozzato explained.
“But someone bumped into me after losing control of his handlebar and I fell on my face. My head was shocked by the crash but my legs were going much better than yesterday after the traveling. In the finale I wanted to anticipate the sprint because I’m not as fast as these guys.
But the Unitedhealthcare riders have done a great job as they rode strongly from 1.2km to the end. There was no space for me to attack. When they opened it for their sprinter, I exited on the right side of the road. I hesitated a bit but at the end he was faster than me. It’s a pity because I would have liked to break the ice and take a first victory this year, especially for the team. They need some results after the good work done since the beginning of the year. We’ll try again.”
Third on the line, Gibbons took over from Scott Sunderland in the lead of the overall ranking. “I had a bike change due to a mechanical at about 60km to go”, the South African revealed. “It had a 53 on and I couldn’t get it down to the 11 [gear]. I had a perfect lead out. I thought it was no problem to come round him but I had no speed. I’m disappointed not to win but I’m happy to be in the yellow jersey. It sounds like an excuse but I think I’m quicker than these guys and I want to prove it in the coming days.”

Stage 3 is expected to be a good one for the sprinters, being relatively short (118km) from Serdang to Pantai Remis.

Feb 22, 2017

Scott Sunderland suggests Azizul Hasni Awang could also win at LTdL

Scott Sunderland of IsoWhey Sports SwissWellness wins the opening stage at Kuala Terengganu

Stage 1 Winners

Race Leaders after stage 1

KUALA TERENGGANU, Wednesday, 22 February 2017 : Former keirin rider Scott Sunderland from Australia won stage 1 of the 2017 Le Tour de Langkawi in Kuala Terengganu and thus followed the path of Dutchman Theo Bos who also successfully made the transition from sprinting on the track to sprinting on the road.
He made IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness’ first appearance to LTdL a big coup as he fended off South Africa’s Ryan Gibbons who is sensational recruit for WorldTour giants Dimension Data while Italian rivals Nicolas Marini of Nippo-Vini Fantini and Jakub Mareczko of Willier Triestina surrendered in third and fourth places.
Sunderland was well aware of winning his first pro race [after stage 1 of the UCI 2.2 Tour of Fuzhou in China in 2015] on the homeland of an old competitor of his: Olympic medalist Azizul Hasni Awang. “I know he’s from Terengganu”, the Australian reacted. “He is a great competitor and such a big presence in keirin racing. I’m aware of his fame in Malaysia. Going from track sprint to this event is definitely a lot different when you have to try to get over the hills and adjust to this style of racing. In the keirin you’ve got five or six other guys. On the road, you have to sprint against fourty or fifty riders. It can be a lot more difficult. But Azizul could definitely make the same move and succeed at LTdL as well. He is a crafty rider. He has a lot of weight on his side. Being a smaller rider [than me], he should be able to get over some of these climbs.”
It was a crash marred finale within ten kilometers to go in Kuala Terengganu once Loh Sea Keong, now riding for Thailand Continental Team, was the last man to be reined in. He was earlier accompanied in a 10-man breakaway by Nur Amirul Fakhruddin Mazuki who delivered for hosting team Terengganu TSG as he brought the first King of the Mountains red jersey home.
“Getting the win and the yellow jersey for IsoWhey Sport Swisswellness on our debut here sets up the team for a good Tour and hopefully I’ll get one more stage victory”, Sunderland declared at the post race press conference. “It was a pretty chaotic finale but the team got me ride in a pretty good position. The crash was close to where I was so I was lucky to get through that and be able to finish off the job with the sprint. Such a win gives you the confidence that you can win another stage. That would be fantastic but it’s already amazing to be here in the lead. I’ll try to hold on to the yellow jersey as long as I can, it’s an amazing event.”
Stage 1 of Le Tour de Langkawi brought neo pro Gibbons under the spotlights. “I’m very happy to be on the podium and give something to the team but I’m also very disappointed to be second”, the Dimension Data rider said. “I kind of waited a little bit too late. The crash happened next to me. I think I was the last rider to avoid it. This result gives me hopes for a stage win by the end of this Tour, hopefully tomorrow.”
“My team worked at perfection”, echoed Marini. “[Riccardo] Stacchiotti and [Giacomo] Berlato helped me tremendously. I had a good sprint. I opened it with Mareczko at 200 metres to go but the first two were really stronger. It’s still long way to go and we’ll try again.”
Stage 2 will be the longest of the 22nd Le Tour de Langkawi, 208km, and also a hard one from Jerteh to Grik where the race last held a stage finish with eventual Tour de France yellow jersey wearer Rinaldo Nocentini won two years after cycling legend Gianni Bugno. 
Organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Malaysia and managed by Ciclista Sports Sdn Bhd, the 22nd edition of Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) from 22 February to 1 March, 2017 is set to cover more than 1,200km over 8 stages, the UCI 2.HC (hors category) race featuring again as one of the biggest events on the UCI Asia Tour calendar.