Wednesday February 27, 2013
Leezer returns from serious injury to win stage in Kuantan
By SHAMSHUL FITRI
KUANTAN: Dutchman Thomas Leezer of Team Blanco capped a stunning comeback from serious injuries suffered during a fall last September by winning the 217.5km Stage Six of the Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) from Mentakab to Kuantan yesterday.
Leezer won with a solo effort after joining the breakaway group at the 180km mark. He crossed the finish line in 4’33:42.
Jung Ji-min of South Korean outfit KSPO was second – 27 seconds behind. Polish national champion Michal Golas of OmegaPharma-QuickStep was third – 35 seconds behind.
Mohd Harrif Salleh of Terengganu Cycling was Malaysia’s best finisher in ninth place, riding in with the big bunch 40 seconds behind Leezer.
Team Nippo’s Julian Arredondo continued to don the yellow jersey after clocking 4’34.28 – 46 seconds behind Leezer.
“It was a crazy race ... nothing like I’ve experienced before. There was attack after attack from the riders ... I think maybe 30 or 40 of them (attack) at the beginning and the peloton reacted to every one of it,” said Leezer, who powered away from the breakaway group with 3km to go.
“I trained hard in the winter before coming here, working with the physio to get myself ready for the race.
“I thought I was ready for a race but to come away with a win is something special,” added Leezer, who suffered a bad crash in a race in Belgium last year, breaking the bones on his shoulder blade.
He also suffered from concussion.
The longest stage in LTdL this year offered chances for breakaway groups to form but the peloton was vigilant in keeping things together with Team Nippo marshalling the peloton.
“I thank my team for doing such great work today. It was a difficult stage with many attacks but we managed to keep them under control,” said Arredondo, who now holds a 1:16 lead over second-placed Pieter Weening of Orica GreenEdge in the overall classfication.
“Tomorrow (today) will be a shorter stage and I hope it will be easier for us to control the race.”
Yesterday’s win makes Blanco one of the most successful ProTour teams thus far this year with 10 wins, sharing the honours with Lotto Belisol.
Earlier in Stage One and Two, Blanco notched two wins with Theo Bos.
However, Bos was down with diarrhoea and pulled out from yesterday’s race.
“I’m sure he (Bos) will be happy with the win. Without him, we can be more active in the breakaways ... perhaps we can set up a few stages for (Graeme) Brown,” said Leezer.
Stage Six results
Mentakab-Kuantan (217.5km): 1. Thomas Leezer (Ned) Blanco 4’33:42, 2. Jung Ji-min (Kor) KSPO 27secs behind, 3. Michal Golas (Pol) OmegaPharma-QuickStep 35, 4. Jackson Rodriguez (Ven) Androni Venezuela, 5. Travis Meyer (Aus) Orica GreenEdge same time, 6. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana 40, 7. Allan Davis (Aus) Orica GreenEdge, 8. Jacob Keough (US) UnitedHealthcare, 9. Mohd Harrif Salleh (Mas) Terengganu Cycling, 10. Anuar Manan (Mas) Synergy Baku all same time.
Leading overall standings: 1. Julian Arredondo (Col) Team Nippo 22’17:48, 2. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica GreenEdge 1:16 behind, 3. Sergio Pardilla (Spa) MTN Qhubeka 2:10, 4. Peter Stetina (US) Garmin-Sharp 2:32, 5. Wang Meiyin (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling 2:40.
Blue jersey: 1. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Astana 57pts, 2. Anuar Manan (Mas) Synergy Baku 43, 3. Wang Meiyin (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling 36.
King of the Mountain (red jersey): 1. Wang Meiyin (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling 48pts, 2. Julian Arredondo (Col) Team Nippo 45, 3. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica GreenEdge 32.
Best Asian rider (white jersey): 1. Wang Meiyin (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling 22’20:28, 2. Amir Kolahdozhagh (Iri) Tabriz Petrochemical 18secs behind, 3. Mizbani Ghader (Iri) Tabriz Petrochemical 58.