Tour de Langkawi: Julian Arredondo soars into the lead on Genting Highlands
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Monday, February 25, 2013

Tour de Langkawi: Julian Arredondo soars into the lead on Genting Highlands

by Ben Atkins at 2:39 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour de Langkawi
Colombian climber takes stage and yellow jersey on the Malaysian mountain

julian arredondo Julian Arredondo (Team Nippo-De Rosa) seized control of the 2013 Tour de Langkawi on the Queen Stage to the summit of Genting Highlands with a late solo attack. The Colombian climber escaped from Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge) inside the final two kilometres of the precipitously steep mountain, after the two of them had escaped from a select climbing group, to finish clear of the Dutchman to take the stage and the race lead.

Weening, who had initiated the escape with an attack in the final five kilometre, held on to take second on the stage, just 26 seconds behind Arredondo, with Victor Niño Corredor (RTS) taking third place at 44 seconds.

“This win is very important for us because we are a little team,” said Arredondo after the stage, “and sharing the road with other pro teams is very important. We are an Asian team and to win the most beautiful stage for us is incredible. It’s like a dream come true.

“I need to thank all my teammates,” he added. “This is a very big victory for us.”

The 110.3km stage from the Proton headquarters in Shah Alam saw a lone breakaway from Travis Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge), who managed to get more than nine minutes clear on the approach to the final, steep climb. The Australian was hunted down by a combination of Europcar and Garmin-Sharp, however, and was caught with just under 20km to go.

From that point the race became one of attrition as riders dropped, one by one, off the back of the leading group, until only a very select few remained. With five kilometres to go Weening launched his attack, but was followed by Arredondo and, when the Colombian attacked himself a few kilometres later, the Dutchman was unable to respond.

Arredondo - who had finished second on the previous mountain stage to Cameron Highlands two days before, and began the day in second overall - took over the yellow jersey from incumbent Wang Meiyin (Hengxiang), who lost more than five minutes on the stage. The Chinese rider slipped from first to fifth overall, but retained the white jersey for best Asian rider.

“I have a good lead, and I hope to be able to control the race,” said Arredondo afterwards. “Everyone in the team is doing well, and I have big hopes to win this race.”

Travis Meyer goes long, and nobody goes with him

After the usual flurry of attacks in the opening kilometres, Craig Lewis (Champion System) managed to get clear after 14km. The American rider was soon joined by South African Janse van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka), with others joining from behind to create a group of eleven; the composition was evidently not acceptable to the rest of the peloton, however, and they were soon back in the fold.

After 19km Meyer made his own move, and this time nobody else reacted. The Australian was 1’45” ahead over the top of the 4th category climb to Bukit Cerankah, after 24km, and his lead kept on growing. After 34km he was 4’28” ahead, as Wang’s Hengxiang team pulled the peloton behind him with the help of Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Garmin-Sharp.

“I was on Sunrise to Sunset [an Orica-GreenEdge video feature - ed] today, so I wanted to make sure I gave you a bit of an insight into the standard day, I guess,” Meyer joked to his team’s cameraman after the stage. “That’s what I do: solo breaks and stuff.”

Meyer’s lead was to peak at 9’13” as he approached the third intermediate sprint of the day, in Gombak with 44km to go, but at this point the Europcar team took over the pursuit and the gap began to fall. At the 26km to go point, as the road began to rise steeply towards the finish, the French team had cut Meyer’s advantage down to 6’52”.

“I felt good initially, but when I got out there it was pretty hard on those sort of roads by yourself,” Meyer explained. “Along that valley bit, before the actual climb, I knew that the bunch would just eat away at me, and that’s exactly what they did.”

The peloton shrunk quickly to less than 50 riders as Meyer entered the final 20km; Europcar was still setting the pace, however, and he was now just 4’15” ahead. UnitedHealthcare then took over the head of affairs, but Garmin-Sharp then began to accelerate, and the Australian’s lead quickly melted on the steep slopes.

“I had absolutely no legs at all when we hit the climb, so I lost four minutes in about 5km!” Meyer laughed. “It was all over!”

The pace was now putting race leader Wang into difficulty and, with 15km to go, was unable to hang on any longer. Despite having no teammates left, the Chinese rider was resisting, however, and was dangling tantalisingly just a few metres behind the ever-shrinking front group.

“It was hard,” Garmin-Sharp’s Peter Stetina explained to VeloNation at the finish. “We did the best we could, and the team rode great, and put a lot of faith in me. When the Nippo guys took over, our team did a lot - even Steele [Von Hoff] was pulling with 30 guys left in the field - and we took control of the race, and the yellow jersey was dropped, and the Nippo guy took over right at the base of the final kick.”

The selection is made and the winning move is launched

Arredondo was still in the lead group, which was now being led by van Rensburg, but Wang was just 35 seconds behind and holding onto his overall lead. As the final ten kilometres approached - and the official climb was about to start - Wang was edging his way back up to the leaders.

The Chinese rider was just unable to regain contact, however, as the group began to shed even more riders on the steepening slopes.

With little more than five kilometres to go, the front group was reduced to just Nathan Haas and Stetina (both Garmin-Sharp), Weening, Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Yonathan Monsalve (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), Lucas Euser (UnitedHealthcare, Yukiya Arashiro and Pierre Rolland (both Europcar), Tomas Gil and Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), Van Rensburg, Sergio Pardilla and Tsgabu Grmay (All MTN-Qhubeka), John Ebsen, Connor McConvey and Kirill Pozdnyakov (all Synergy-Baku), Misbani Ghader and Amir Kolahdozhagh (both Tabriz Petrochemicals), Niño Corredor, Arredondo and Fortunato Baliani (both Nippo-De Rosa).

Shortly afterwards Weening put in his attack, and only Arredondo could follow.

The Dutchman led into the final three kilometres, opening up a 14 second lead over the pursuing Niño Corredor, with Stetina, Pardilla and Grmay another 15 seconds back, but when the Colombian came to the front, Weening was forced to watch him go. Dressed in the red jersey of mountains classification leader - in lieu of Wang, who was wearing yellow - Arredondo forged ahead of the Orica-GreenEdge rider, as the rain began to fall.

“I attacked with 5km to go, or a little bit less, and he followed easily,” Weening told VeloNation afterwards. “He sat in my wheel for 2km, and I just asked him to take over and take the front, but he immediately dropped me.

“He’s the best one on the climbs in this race, so there’s nothing I can do about it.”

Raising both arms as he crossed the line, Arredondo secured his first victory since the 2012 Tour of Japan and, with Wang still on the mountain behind him, took over both the yellow and red jerseys.

“The plan for today was to wait and see, and see particularly how the race leader Wang Meiyin was behaving,” Arredondo explained after the stage. “Towards the end Baliani pulled for me, and we attacked, and that’s how I could win and, for now, be the leader of the general classification.”

Weening followed 26 seconds later, to secure second place overall, with Niño Corredor following after 44. Padilla was the first of the chase group to make it to the finish, in fourth place after 1’05”, to move up into third place overall, with Stetina fifth 23 seconds behind him.

Wang reached the finish in 20th place, slipping to fifth overall, but still held on to the consolation of the white jersey.

Result stage 5
1. Julian Arredondo (Col) Team Nippo-De Rosa
2. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge @ 26s
3. Victor Niño Corredor (Col) RTS Racing Team @ 44s
4. Sergio Pardilla (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka @ 1’05”
5. Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp @ 1’28”
6. Amir Kolahdozhagh (Iri) Tabriz Petrochemical Team @ 1’40”
7. Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) MTN-Qhubeka @ 1’43”
8. Fortunato Baliani (Ita) Team Nippo-De Rosa @ 1’47”
9. John Ebsen (Den) Synergy-Baku Cycling Project @ 1’50”
10. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp @ 1’58”

Standings after stage 5
1. Julian Arredondo (Col) Team Nippo-De Rosa
2. Pieter Weening (Ned) Orica-GreenEdge @ 1’22”
3. Sergio Pardilla (Spa) MTN-Qhubeka @ 2’10”
4. Peter Stetina (USA) Garmin-Sharp @ 2’33”
5. Wang Meiyin (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team @ 2’40”
6. Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) MTN-Qhubeka @ 2’45”
7. Amir Kolahdozhagh (Iri) Tabriz Petrochemical Team
8. Fortunato Baliani (Ita) Team Nippo-De Rosa @ 2’49”
9. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp @ 2’54”
10. John Ebsen (Den) Synergy-Baku Cycling Project @ 2’55”


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