Eritrean cyclist Merhawi Kudus climbed to second place on the queen stage of this year’s Le Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia earlier today.
The achievement by the 20-year-old rider also ensured he moves up to second on the overall standing, trailing stage winner and race leader Mirsamd Pourseyedigolakhour (Tabriz Petrochemical Cycling Team) by 8 seconds.
After getting caught in the final kilometer the previous day, Jacques Janse van Rensburg put on another aggressive ride to finish sixth on the Genting Highlands stage and is in the same position on the general classification, placing two riders in the top ten for Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung and putting the team in the lead in the overall team competition.
“I’m feeling good and I’m really happy,” Kudus, who is in his debut season as a professional, said after the stage.
“I did a good result for the team. At the beginning of the climb I thought I’d attack as my legs were good and I thought I’d try to get across to the leaders. When I got there I saw everyone was looking tired. I attacked them with 500m to go but in the end the other guy caught with me 100m to go. There’s a lot of racing to come and we will see if we can win the GC and give it our best.”
The day started with a major move going off the front with all the main teams represented. Janse van Rensburg and Tsgabu Girmay were the team’s representation in the breakaway.
“We weren’t expecting such a big group to go but we were happy to have Jacques and Tsgabu there,” sports director Kevin Campbell said. “We were confident at this stage. Once the climb started the group was whittling down as we expected. Merhawi attacked the group behind and went up the climb like his pants were on fire. Louis [Meintjes] was very strong in the group behind and just shadowed the other favourites. Merhawi rode across a three minute gap without any help so would have lost a lot of energy but it was something special to watch.”
Once Kudus caught the leaders, the group shrunk to five riders eventually with 3km to go. Janse van Rensuburg fought hard to keep the group within sight. Kudus was the first to make a move as they passed the 500m to go banner but was caught by Pourseyedigolakhour as the line approached.
The Malaysian race continues with Stage 5, 139.9km trek from Karak to Rembau. The stage will feature two category 3 climbs in the last two hours of racing.
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