AFTER coming in second in the opening stage in Kuching on Friday, Thailand Continental Cycling (TCC) team believe they have what it takes to mount a strong challenge for the Asian overall team and individual titles in the on-going PETRONAS Le Tour de Langkawi 2020.

Formed four years ago, TCC found themselves in a leading position to challenge for the Asian titles following Thurakit Boonratanathanakorn’s second placing in Stage 1 in Kuching.

Soon after eventual winner Yevgeny Fodorov launched an early solo attack in the early part of the race, Thurakit, a time trial specialist, hunted the Kazakh young rider to form a two-man breakaway and stuck together until the last sprint finish.

Admitting the first day achievement as a huge surprise, directeur sportiff Wisut Kasiyaphat said he was extremely happy with the results which have helped raise the team’s level of confidence, apart from gaining a 1:17s time advantage over their rivals.

“This is by far the best results for us. We’ve won a few 2.1 and 2.2 races, but to do well in a ProSeries race like Le Tour de Langkawi is a big achievement for us. We aim to go higher,” he said.

Team Manager Wisut Kasiyaphat admitted that Thurakit’s first-day feat came as a surprise but believes his charges have what it takes to achieve bigger results in the coming days.

Kasiphayat added, prior to coming to Malaysia, the team have set out plans to challenge the Asian titles. The team are now on the right track but will need to keep the momentum and deploy the right strategy to keep them ahead of their rivals throughout the next 7 stages.

As with the other teams, TCC are hoping to do well the landmark Genting climb on (Monday) February 10 to boost their chances and stretch their lead on the Asian classification.

The team are banking on their three formidable climbers namely Laotian champion Ariya Phounsavath, 2019 SEA Games champion Sarawut Sirironnachai and Asian Mountain Bike 2020 bronze medallist Peerapol Chawhiangkwang to deliver the results in the 1,650-metre climb up to the summit.

“In Ariya, Sarawut and Sirironnachai, I see great future for the team. I believe we will be able to put up a strong challenge in the mountains against the likes of Japan, Hong Kong or Indonesia,” said Kasiphayat. – Naser Wahab

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