ProTouch rider Rohan Du Plooy took top honours but it was also a positive overall day for Malaysian riders in stage two of the inaugural Tour of Peninsular (ToP) today.
Stage two, like stage one on Tuesday, was again an open race with no one team dominating the proceedings. The stage covered a total distance of 157.4km starting in Kuala Terengganu and ended in Chukai.
Du Plooy saw an opportunity during the only KOM in the stage at Kijal where he attacked with a small breakaway group. And there was no looking back as he took a much deserved win in 3:30:43s.
Iranian Amirhossein Jamshidian Ghlehsefidi (Foolad Mobarakeh Sepahan) took second while Terengganu Inc’s (TSG) Harrif Saleh fought his way to third place on the podium (all same time).
Du Plooy said he took his chances after cresting the peak at Kijal and was fully committed until the finish. “I saw that a small group had gone clear over the top of the KOM and I crossed over to join my teammate Kent Main and one other rider (in the group),” said the South African rider.
“We just really committed to it and it was one of those days the breakaway could stay away.
“But it was really close at the end, the gap to the peloton was only 10 to 15 seconds at 1km out and much closer on the line.
“Obviously I am really happy that it worked out and we will go into tomorrow (stage three) looking to win again.”
Team Sapura Cycling’s (TSC) Muhammad Nur Aiman Mohd Zariff took full KOM points at Kijal and his better finishing time saw him taking over the lead in the mountains competition (red jersey) over Indonesia’s Aiman Cahyadi (PGN Road Cycling Team) despite the duo both being on six points.
“The plan from yesterday was to take control of the mountains competition jersey and I am grateful that I was able to do it today,” said Nur Aiman.
“I will try collect as many points as possible tomorrow (stage three) and strengthen my position. I will try my best to keep this jersey for all five stages but the climb up Cameron Highlands will be tough.”
This means that Malaysian riders are now in control of two jerseys as Danieal Haikkan Edy Suhaidee’s lead in the best asian rider competition (white jersey) remains unchanged.
It was also a quiet day at the office for overall leader Elchin Asadov of the Azerbaijan National team as he keeps the yellow jersey for another stage.
Both Danieal and Elchin finished comfortably in the main group. Stage three tomorrow will start in Kuantan and finish in Karak (172.2km) and will feature intermediate sprints at Gambang, Chenor and Temerloh as well as KOM points at Srijaya (Cat 4).