Sunday March 3, 2013
Poor show by Malaysian riders
KUALA TERENGGANU: It was a harder race for Malaysian sprinters in the Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) this year as none got onto the podium in the 10 stages.
Last year, Terengganu Cycling’s Mohd Harrif Salleh and Anuar Manan (then with Champion System) grabbed three podium finishes between them. This year, Anuar, who moved to Azerbaijan outfit Synergy Baku, only had six top-10 finishes (Stage One, Four, Six, Eight, Nine and 10). Harrif, meanwhile, only made the top-10 twice (Stage Six and 10).
“I have to admit that the quality of the race, as far as the sprints are concerned, is higher. But for me to be able to finish in the top-10 in six stages is still a good achievement,” said Anuar.
“We’re a new team ... maybe the cohesion between me and my team-mates is still not so good. But I see this as a good start. Hopefully this season I can grab several wins for my team.”
The five ProTour teams – Blanco, Orica GreenEdge, OmegaPharma-QuickStep, Astana and Garmin-Sharp – sent some serious firepower to contest for stage wins.
Blanco had Theo Bos, who won two stages before pulling out due to diarrhoea; OmegaPharma had budding sprinter Andrew Fenn; and Astana sent Andrea Guardini, who’s popular with the Malaysian fans since he first came in 2011.
Harrif, meanwhile, feels that he failed to deliver the goods largely due to the team’s poor preparation for the race. The team had management issues late last year and it prevented the riders from focusing on training and the team were left with just seven riders for the season.