Victory for Matthews on stage one of Tour de Langkawi
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Monday, March 1, 2010

Victory for Matthews on stage one of Tour de Langkawi

by VeloNation Press at 8:16 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results

A hot, humid opening day of the Tour de Langkawi saw very strong performances from the Australian and Malaysian riders in particular, with nineteen year old Aussie Michael Matthews grabbing the first professional victory of his career

The Team Jayco Skins rider was quickest of the 109 riders in the main bunch, hitting the line in the northern coastal town of Kuala Berang comfortably ahead of Vidal Celis (Footon Servetto) and Ruslan Tleubayev (Kazakhstan National Team) . The impressive sprint earned him the first yellow jersey in the race.

“This is unbelievable. I came wanting to win but not expecting it, so it is really good,” he said. “I didn’t know the other riders, I didn’t know who to follow, who was going to do, so I had to pick the right wheels. There were people going everywhere, I heard crashes behind, I think. I had to try to get out the best side and get a free run to the finish.

“The Footon rider [Celis] hit out pretty early so I had something to run at. It gave me something to chase and it worked out really well.”

His compatriot Peter McDonald was clear for almost 100 kilometres of the 174.5 kilometre stage, slogging on despite the stiflingly hot weather conditions and netting the king of the mountains jersey for his efforts.

He had attacked 54 kilometres after the start in Kota Bharu, racing clear with the Indonesian Rastra Patria Dinawan (Polygon Sweet Nice). When the latter faded soon afterwards, McDonald pressed on alone and built a maximum lead of over nine minutes.

He took top points at the day’s third hot spot sprint, at Sungai Tong (km 128.3), as well as at the second KOM prime, the category 4 ascent of Sg Tong (km132.3). And while he was caught 25 kilometres from the end, he picked up the KOM jersey; it made his day out front worthwhile.

“I wasn’t really looking to stay away until the end, I thought it was a bit out of my grasp,” he admitted. “I just wanted to pick up the sprint and KOM primes. I didn’t actually know there was one more KOM to come towards the end, maybe I might have pushed a bit more to try to take that, but it all worked out fine because I have the jersey anyway.

“The jersey is a goal now. I will just try to pick up points along the way, if I can. They tend to work out more by sprints, so you have to look for your team to help you out and keep you up near the front when it comes to the KOM.”

The days ahead have a number of smaller climbs, but the big decider for both the general classification and the KOM competition will be next Saturday’s race to the top of the daunting Genting Highlands climb.

When asked if he would be able to handle the torturous slopes, he promised to do what he could. He said a key will be to preserve his strength until later this week.

“I don’t climb too bad. I will be having a dig on Genting, but when you go away and stay away so long on the first stage of a seven-stage race, then eventually you are going to run out of energy,” he said. “Today wasn’t really part of the plan, I didn’t really want to be alone out the front there using all that energy, but it is just the way it worked out. Hopefully I can conserve a bit for Genting.

Home strength:

Today’s first stage of their biggest national cycling event saw very determined displays by Malaysian competitors, particularly Anuar Manan.

The Geumsan Ginseng Asia rider grabbed the first hot spot sprint, hitting the line in Jelawat (km 20.7) ahead of Matthias Brandle (Footon-Servetto) and others.

Twenty kilometres later, Roman Zhiyentayev (Kazakhstan) took the first King of the Mountains prime at the large bridge of Tok Bali. Zainal Rizuan (Malaysia) was second over the line.

Manan then swung back into action at the second hot spot sprint at Kuala Besut (km 50.6), edging out Brandle once again. He went on to place fourth in the finishing sprint, just missing out on the best Asian rider award for the stage.

That wasn’t of major concern, though, as he nabbed the overall lead in that classification, as well as ending the day third overall.

“I am very happy to have this jersey,” he said at the post-stage press conference. “My target today was to take that and also go for the stage win. I only got one of those, the green jersey, but maybe I can keep it until the finish.”

Next up:

The riders will contest the longest stage of the 2010 Tour de Langkawi when they race between Kuala Terengganu and Chukai. The 182.3 stage from Kuala Terengganu to Chukai is mostly flat and another bunch sprint is the most likely outcome.


Tour de Langkawi, Malaysia (2.HC, March 1-7):

March 1, Stage 1: Kota Bharu - Kuala Berang:

1, Michael Matthews (Jayco-Skins) 174.5 kilometres in 4 hours 22 mins 53 secs
2, Vidal Cellis (Footon-Servetto)
3, Ruslan Tleubayev (Kazakhstan National Team)
4, Anuar Manan (Geumsan Ginseng Asia)
5, Johann Rabie (South African National Team)
6, René Haselbacher (Vorarlberg-Corratec)
7, Markus Eibegger (Footon-Servetto)
8, Tobias Erler (Tabriz Petrochemical)
9, Zach Bell (Kelly Benefit Strategies)
10, Salleh Zamri (Malaysia National Team) all same time

General Classification:

1, Michael Matthews (Jayco-Skins) at 4 hours 22 mins 43 secs
2, Vidal Cellis (Footon-Servetto) at 4 secs
3, Ruslan Tleubayev (Kazakhstan National Team) same time
4, Anuar Manan (Geumsan Ginseng Asia) at 6 secs
5, Johann Rabie (South African National Team) at 7 secs
6, René Haselbacher (Vorarlberg-Corratec) at 8 secs
7, Markus Eibegger (Footon-Servetto) at 9 secs
8, Tobias Erler (Tabriz Petrochemical) same time
9, Zach Bell (Kelly Benefit Strategies) at 10 secs
10, Salleh Zamri (Malaysia National Team) same time



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