Tour de Langkawi: Wang Meiyin solos into the race lead on the misty Cameron Highlands
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Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tour de Langkawi: Wang Meiyin solos into the race lead on the misty Cameron Highlands

by Ben Atkins at 2:43 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour de Langkawi
 
Chinese rider jumps clear of stage-long break to open a commanding margin overall

wand meiyin Wang Meiyin (Hengxiang) took control of the 2013 Tour de Langkawi as he escaped alone to win a solo victory in the third stage between Sungai Siput and Cameron Highlands. The Chinese rider had been part of a five-man group that escaped early in the 140.7km stage and, having been allowed a big lead by the peloton, jumped clear of his companions with 40km still to climb to the mountaintop finish.

The lone Wang still had a lead of eight minutes with 20km to go and, despite a hard chase from behind, held on to cross the line almost two and a half minutes clear.

"I was only thinking of joining the breakaway, but I didn't expect to win like this. It was not part of our team's plans,” explained Wang afterwards. The plan was for two other teammates to get in the breakaway, but they didn't manage to do so.

"So I tried to go and succeeded. When we reached the foot of the climb, I managed to drop the other four riders and continue with my pace.”

As a relatively unknown rider, the big teams of the peloton allowed Wang a lead that they were eventually unable to close down, which is something that the 24-year-old Chinese rider was able to use to his advantage.

"Maybe the riders in the peloton also made a mistake and didn't try to catch me earlier because they don't know me or they thought they could catch me. So I was lucky."

"But I must admit that this was not an easy climb."

The rest of Wang’s companions were swept up by the chasing bunch, which was shrinking under pressure from Garmin-Sharp, but the pace was not strong enough to prevent Julian Arrendondo (Nippo-De Rosa) from escaping in the closing kilometres. The Colombian rider was able to get several seconds clear to cross the line in second place, some 2’27” behind Wang.

Australian Nathan Haas (Garmin-Sharp) outsprinted compatriot Wesley Sulzberger (Orica-GreenEdge) for third place, 3’11” back.

Wang’s stage victory was good enough to give him a commanding lead in the general classification, with a 2’43” lead over Arrendondo in second place.

The first mountain stage of the race began with a series of attacks, with Wang getting clear in the opening 20km with Loh Sea Keong and Ho Junrun (both OCBC Singapore), Seo Joon Yong (KSPO) and Harrif Salleh (Terengganu). The five riders were allowed to open a lead of more than 12 minutes, as no team sought to take control of the race; by the time the reaction did come, the leaders were on the climb, and Wang was already riding off to victory.

"This is the greatest day of my life. It is also my biggest success so far," he said.

Five Asian Continental riders escape and the peloton lets them go

The attacks begun as soon as the peloton exited the neutral zone, but it was not until the tenth kilometre that Loh and Seo finally got away from the peloton. They were joined by Ho, Salleh and Wang after 18km, as the peloton sat up, and just three kilometres later they led by 3’20”.

The immediate concern appeared to be the battle for Wang’s best Asian rider jersey, as Keong jumped a little way ahead to take the first intermediate sprint, in Ipoh after 27.8km. This reduced the Hengxiang rider’s lead in the classification to just three seconds - as he was beaten to second by Salleh - but, more significantly, the lethargic peloton was now 8’35” behind.

Bos’ Blanco team was not interested in protecting the Dutch sprinter’s lead in the general classification, and so was not assuming control of the peloton as it had done on the previous day. Several teams exchanged turns on the front but, with no concerted chase, the quintet managed to extend its lead to 11’22” by the 41km point; at 50km this had grown to more than 12 minutes.

Harrif won the second and third sprints, in Kampar after 59km, and Tapah after 79.2km, taking a little pressure off Wang in the Asian rider classification; the Chinese rider was also the virtual leader on the road by a considerable margin at this point, with the peloton still not having reacted.

Finally, however, most of the teams in the peloton began to take turns on the front, and the gap began to fall.

Wang goes it alone on the climb and increases his lead again

As the quintet arrived at the foot of the climb it was soon down to a trio as original breakaways Loh and Seo were left behind. The peloton had reduced the gap to around 4’30” by this point and, with 40km of climbing to go, looked to have the group under control. This was the point at which Wang decided to attack, however, and the Hengxiang rider set off for the summit finish alone.

Rather than being closed down by the chasing peloton, Wang was now beginning to reopen his lead and, as he crossed the top of the 1st category Ringlet climb with 18.3km to go, he had increased it to eight minutes. Ho and Loh were still clear of the bunch as they crossed the top, but the other two had been swept up as Victor Niño Corredor (RTS) led the peloton over.

“The breakaway was under control, we were setting a really solid tempo up that climb with 40km to go, and all of a sudden it goes from five [minutes], to six, to seven, to eight,” said third place Haas afterwards.

“Whoever that was in front was really strong; it was a great ride to hold off, but yeah, that was a hard day.”

After a very brief descent Wang began the hors category climb to the finish and, although the peloton was closing fast, he was still climbing strongly.

“The guy in the front was really strong,” said fifth place Pieter Weening afterwards. “We had a try with a couple of teams to chase it down. I think some guys in the bunch were too confident that we would catch him back easy, and it was not.

“In the end they started the climb with something like eight minutes,” explained the Dutchman, “and it’s not a really steep climb, and if you still have the legs then you can make it to the finish. So he did a really strong ride.”

Arrendondo jumped away from the bunch on the steep slopes, and tried to cross the gap to the lone Chinese rider, but the gap was too large and Wang punched the air with exhausted elation as he took the biggest victory of his career.

In addition to his new yellow jersey, Wang held on to his white jersey for best Asian overall, and also took the lead in the blue points and red mountains jerseys.

Result stage 3
1. Wang Meiyin (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team
2. Julian Arrendondo (Col) Team Nippo-De Rosa @ 2’27”
3. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp @ 3’11”
4. Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
5. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge @ 3’13”
6. Yonathan Monsalve (Ven) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
7. Pieter Serry (Bel) Omega Pharma-Quick Step
8. Fortunato Baliani (Ita) Team Nippo-De Rosa
9. Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) MTN-Qhubeka
10. Dennis Van Niekerk (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka

Standings after stage 3
1. Wang Meiyin (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team
2. Julian Arrendondo (Col) Team Nippo-De Rosa @ 2’43”
3. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp @ 3’29”
4. Wesley Sulzberger (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge @ 3’33”
5. Chad Beyer (USA) Champion System @ 3’35”
6. Yonathan Monsalve (Ven) Vini Fantini-Selle Italia
7. Dennis Van Niekerk (RSA) MTN-Qhubeka
8. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge
9. Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) MTN-Qhubeka
10. Fortunato Baliani (Ita) Team Nippo-De Rosa

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