GEORGE Jackson of Bolton Equities Black Spoke launched a powerful sprint to win a hard-fought 183.1km Stage 3 of the PETRONAS Le Tour de Langkawi 2023 which ended in Baling, today.
Jackson staved off a chaotic final sprint battle against Green Project-Bardiani’s Enrico Zanoncello who had to settle as the stage’s second best.
A disappointed Zanoncello, however, managed to wrest the PETRONAS Green Jersey from Tudor’s Arvid de Kleijn, as the overall leader after Day 3 of the race.
Today’s fourth win of the season came as a sweet one for the Kiwi who, just a week ago, clinched two stages and the overall title of the Tour of Taihu Lake (2.Pro) in China.
Led out by teammate Matthew Bostock, the Wellington-born rider slipped through from fourth into the last corner, launching his sprint at the right time to brush aside Zanoncello with slightly over a bike’s length, but it was not enough for him to take over the GC standings. Second-placed Zanoncello emerged as the new overall leader with a time of 12.55.05.
It was supposed to be a stage for the pure climbers and GC contenders to rule but in the end, it was the 23-year-old Jackson, winner of this year’s Tour of Taihu Lake, who had the last laugh at the end of the tough stage.
“I’m pretty stoked with today’s win. It was a hard race but the boys did a great job of chasing the leaders all day.
Towards the last 300 metres, Matt (Bostock) led me out, I was then fourth into the last corner, and sprinted as hard as I could to the line,’ said Jackson, adding that the team’s focus now is to look for another stage win and fight hard for the general classification.
Despite having the green jersey on his back, Zanoncello could not hide his disappointment of finishing second. “I was eyeing for a win today but in the end, George is the better rider. I’m disappointed and today’s jersey come as a consolation to me,” said Zanoncello who had stage wins in this year’s Tour of Qinghai Lake.
EF Education-Easy Post’s Simon Carr who is now third in the general classification with a four-minute deficit over the leader, will be the main man to watch when the race heads for Genting Highlands on Wednesday.
Despite losing the leader’s jersey, Tudor Pro Cycling team still had reasons to celebrate as Simon Pellaud, who was part of the nine-man early breakaway group, took over as leader of the mountain’s classification and new wearer of TOURISM MALAYSIA Polk Dot Jersey.
Pellaud took full points in three out of the four KOMs on offer today, including the Cat. 1 climb at Puncak Titiwangsa (1066 metres). He now has 20 points at the top with Bardiani’s Luca Covili trailing in second with 12 points.
Teammate and Stage One winner Arvid de Kleijn remains at the top of the Sprints Classification and will start tomorrow’s Stage 4 in the KBS Orange Jersey as the Best Sprinter. The Dutchman led the sprinters’ field but tied with Zanoncello with 27 points after three stages.
It was also a fruitful day for the Malaysian National Team who had Muhammad Nur Aiman Rosli to thank for delivering the BEAUTIFUL TERENGGANU White Jersey as the Best Asian Rider.
Carr, among the main riders in the group of nine in the early breakaway, currently third in the overall standings, was voted as the winner of the day’s BUBBLES O2 Most Combative award.
The race started with 125 riders but ended with 121, with three riders failing to start and four dropping out on a day which saw three Giant Cycling Team riders failing to make it to the start line.
The three riders Lin Chuanyang, Wang Zichen and Huang Junlei were involved in an accident which saw their team van flipping over within the neutral zone in Jeli. The riders and driver of the van however escaped serious injuries.
Tomorrow’s Stage 4 from Bukit Mertajam to Meru Raya Ipoh over a flat route of 140.2km, presents sprinters with another chance of being on the winners’ podium with three intermediate sprints in Bagan Serai, Talang and Sungai Siput and a small Cat 3 climb in Kuala Kangsar.