Tour de Langkawi: Tom Leezer solos through the monsoon to take stage six
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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tour de Langkawi: Tom Leezer solos through the monsoon to take stage six

by Ben Atkins at 3:24 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results, Tour de Langkawi
 
Blanco leadout man escapes the break to take Dutch team’s third victory of the race

tom leezer Tom Leezer (Blanco) took his first ever professional victory in the sixth stage of the 2013 Tour de Langkawi, between Mentakab and Kuantan, under monsoon conditions, as he escaped a breakaway of sixteen riders with just seven kilometres to go. The 27-year-old Dutchman, who spent the first half of the race working in the sprint train of sprinter Theo Bos tok a rare personal triumph on the day that the former track World champion abandoned the race.

Behind Leezer, Ji Min Jung (KSPO) took second place at the head of a splinter group of four chasers, ahead of Polish champion Michal Golas (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) and Travis Meyer (Orica-GreenEdge), who was up the road for the second successive day.

"I think I must have tried 30 or 40 times to breakaway during this stage and thankfully the last one was a good one,” said Leezer afterwards. “It was a different kind of experience, but a happy one.

“I'm very happy with this win, especially for our team,” he continued. “We have been racing really well as we all need to prove ourselves as we lost our main sponsor [Rabobank - ed] last year, so this drives the team forward.”

Leezer suffered serious injuries in a crash the previous September, where he suffered vertebra and shoulder fractures and was in a coma for several days.

“I'm also relieved with this win,” he said. “Actually I thought I was lucky to be here to start this race, but now I've shown that I can also be competitive."

With Leezer, Jung, Golas, Rodriguez and Meyer in the breakaway group, were Steele Van Hoff (Garmin-Sharp), Meyer’s Orica-GreenEdge teammate Wesley Sulzberger, Golas’ Omega Pharma-Quick Step teammates Serge Pauwels and Pieter Serry, Junya Sano (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), Chad Beyer (UnitedHealthcare), Cyril Gautier and Rolland (both Europcar), Conner McConvey (Synergy-Baku), Yasuharu Nakajima (Aisan) and Lufti Fauzan (Malaysia).

The riders had escaped as heavy rain began to fall with around 50km of the stage’s 217.5km to go, after a day where numerous attacks were attempted, but none was successful. With 35km to go the group was 2’11” ahead but, with Rolland, Pauwels, Rodriguez and Sulzberger all threats to the overall lead of Julian Arredondo (Nippo-De Rosa), and the other podium places, the peloton began to chase hard.

Arredondo’s Nippo-De Rosa team was aided by the MTN-Qhubeka team of third overall Sergio Pardilla, and managed to cut a minute from the group’s advantage. Despite the puncture of Rolland, however - with the Frenchman forced to give up and wait for the peloton, the whole group was working hard up front and managing to hold off the chase.

Meyer was the first to attack, with ten kilometres to go, but the Australian - who had spent most of the previous day in a long solo break - was soon chased down by Leezer, Jung, Golas and Rodriguez. Leezer then attacked with seven kilometres to go, and managed to hold off the chase to take victory.

Jung, Golas, Rodriguez and Meyer sprinted for the rest of the podium places, as the rest of the break was picked up by the peloton Andrea Guardini (Astana) took the bunch sprint for sixth.

After a brief scare for Arredondo, the Colombian only lost a handful of seconds to Rodriguez in the general classification, and finished safely in the peloton with his yellow jersey intact.

The day after Genting, and the longest day; would it be a break or a sprint finish?

At 217.5km the sixth stage was by far the longest of the race and, with a number of sore legs in the peloton after the previous day’s climb to Genting Highlands, it was widely predicted that a breakaway might make it to the finish. With several sprinters still searching for their first victory, however, there was still a high probability of a mass bunch finish.

One name certain not to be on the winner’s podium, however, was that of double stage winner Bos, who had been forced to abandon the race with the digestive problems that had prevented him from sprinting on stage four.

The stage began with constant attacks, as usual, but none was able to get established, as the peloton covered 50km in the first hour. Finally, however, after former yellow jersey Wang Meiyin was led out by his Hengxiang team at the top of the first climb of the day, in Sungai Piul after 71.5km, a group of 12 riders broke clear.

With Wang having taken back the lead in the overall mountains classification from Arredondo, the break was allowed to get away.

In the group were Van Hoff, Ruslan Tleubayev (Astana), Sulzberger, Leezer and Jetse Bol (both Blanco), Andy Fenn (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Yonathan Monsalve (Vini Fantini-Selle Italia), John Murphy (UnitedHealthcare), Yukiya Arashiro (Europcar), Omar Bertazzo (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela), Jani Twelede (MTN-Qhubeka) and Dan Craven (Synergy-Baku).

Too many overall contenders attacking for Arrendondo’s comfort

The group was 1’30” ahead after 87km, but the presence of former race winner Monsalve - who was just 3’31” behind Arredondo in 12th place - Nippo-De Rosa began to close it down again. Champion System, who had missed the break, came forward to help out the Japanese-registered team, and the gap began to come down faster.

Meanwhile, up ahead, Arashiro attacked on the approach to the climb at Jengka, and passed over the top, after 103km, alone. Behind the former Japanese champion, the peloton steadily closed down the rest of the break, until he was the only rider at the head of the race at the 125km point.

A group of riders jumped up to Arashiro, but the race was all back together after 133km.

With the peloton complete, the attacks began all over again, and Australian champion Luke Durbridge (Orica-GreenEdge) managed to escape. He was joined by a number of others, including Amir Kolahdozhagh (Tabriz Petrochemical) and Janse van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka) - seventh and 14th overall respectively - but the peloton once again pulled back the group.

There followed several more attacks, notably from British sprinter Andy Fenn (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) and Durbridge again, but to no avail. As the rain began to fall, however, the 16-rider group escaped.

The winning break is made as the monsoon begins to fall

With 35km to go the group was 2’11” clear but, with Nippo-De Rosa and MTN-Qhubeka leading the chase again, this slowly began to come down. With everyone in the group committed, however, there were as many riders working in front as in the peloton, and the seconds ticked down very slowly indeed.

With ten kilometres to go, with the lead still almost a minute, Rolland punctured and was caught by the peloton shortly after taking a new wheel. The group was now down to 15 but, shortly afterwards, Meyer attacked. The Australian forced open a sizeable gap, but Leezer, Jung, Golas and Rodriguez managed to jump across it and, with just seven kilometres to go, Leezer countered.

Once ahead, the Dutchman kept the pressure on through the near-monsoon conditions and, keeping upright around the two lefthand corners inside the last kilometre, crossed the line to take his maiden professional win.

Jung escaped the chase group in the final kilometres to take second place, 27 seconds behind, with Golas taking the sprint for third after 35.

Result stage 6
1. Tom Leezer (Ned) Blanco Pro Cycling
2. Ji Min Jung (Kor) KSPO @ 27s
3. Michal Golas (Pol) Omega Pharma-Quick Step @ 35s
4. Jackson Rodriguez (Ven) Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela
5. Travis Meyer (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
6. Andrea Guardini (Ita) Team Astana @ 40s
7. Allan Davis (Aus) Orica-GreenEdge
8. Jake Keough (USA) UnitedHealthcare Procycling
9. Harrif Salleh (Mas) Terengganu Cycling Team
10. Anuar Manan (Mas) Synergy-Baku Cycling Project

Standings after stage 6
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. Nathan Haas (Aus) Garmin-Sharp @ 2’48”
7. Fortunato Baliani (Ita) Team Nippo-De Rosa @ 2’49”
8. John Ebsen (Den) Synergy-Baku Cycling Project @ 2’55”
9. Tsgabu Grmay (Eth) MTN-Qhubeka @ 2’58”
10. Amir Kolahdozhagh (Iri) Tabriz Petrochemical Team

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