GLEB Syritsa stamped his brute sprinting strength in the last 50 metres to take Stage 2 from Kuala Terengganu to Kota Bharu, his second career win in the PETRONAS Le Tour de Langkawi.
The 23-year-old Astana Qazaqstan Team’s top sprinter made amends for the mistakes of starting yesterday’s sprint from the far out which cost him a win, perfectly timed his sprint in today’s stage to edge out Dutch sprinter Arvid de Kleijn, to take his second career win in the Tour.
With 300 metres to go, De Kleijn was locked in a close tussle with Syritsa who stayed firm on his wheel, and came in second but remained in the PETRONAS Green Leader’s Jersey with a close 0.02s ahead of the Russian.
The Dutchman also kept the KBS Orange Sprinter’s Jersey on his back, accumulating 27 points to stay ahead of Syritsa who is now three points behind.
Italian Enrico Zanoncello (Green Project-Bardiani-CSF-Fanzaine), winner of this year’s Tour of Qinghai Lake (2.Pro), came in third.
“I’m so happy to have won and beat Arvid today. I got it all wrong yesterday, made a mistake in my sprinting tactics…but today, it was all good,” said the elated Russian sprinter, adding that it would be a tough ride in tomorrow’s Stage 3 hilly stage from Jeli to Banting. “We’ll see how it goes tomorrow,” he added.
De Kleijn conceded that Syritsa was the better man today, saying that he looks forward to more sprint battles with his close rival in the coming stages.
“My team did a great job in leading me out, but with 200 metres to go, I tried hard but in the end, I felt I didn’t have it today. There’s more sprint battles in the coming days, and I’m looking forward to lock horns with Gleb again,” said de Kleijn.
Meanwhile, the TOURISM MALAYSIA Red Polka Dot jersey changed hands with Terengganu Polygon Cycling Team’s Nur Amirull Fakhrudin Mazuki taking over from teammate Muhammad Nur Aiman Zariff, who is now second in the KOM standings.
Nur Amirull took full points in both KOM zones in Setiu and Pelong, amassing four points with Nur Aiman a point behind.
“The strategy today is for me to do the breakaway and stay ahead, and give Nur Aiman a rest and prepare for tomorrow’s hilly stage, which suits well for pure climbers.
It’s going to be crucial for us tomorrow and will give our best…we are hoping that our climbers like Jambaljamts Sainbayar, Nur Aiman and Jeroen Meijers stay in good shape for tomorrow,” said Nur Amirull.
The BEAUTIFUL TERENGGANU White Jersey remained with Roojai Online Insurance’s rider, Tegshbayar Batsaikhan as Asia’s Best rider, after completing the stage in seventh place.
Meanwhile, Caja-Rural Seguros rider, Calum Johnston took the BUBBLES O2 Most Combative award following his 50km solo effort after the 90km mark.
With no dropouts (128 riders) in today’s stage, tomorrow’s 183.1km hilly battle from Jeli to Baling is expected to be crucial, especially for the general classification contenders.
A Category 1 climb at Puncak Titiwangsa (1066m), followed by two Category 2 and one Cat 1 climbs await teams and riders who will need to be in their best shape, physically, mentally and tactically.
PETRONAS Le Tour de Langkawi 2023 with the theme ‘Beat The Heat’ is organized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports (KBS) through the National Sports Council (MSN) and the support of the National Cycling Federation of Malaysia (PKBM), covers a total race distance of 1,278.1km.