Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung topped off another successful day during stage five of le tour de langkawi today, when the Queen stage saw the riders finish up the Genting Highlands. Along with extending its lead in the team competition, the team from Africa had Sergio Pardilla finish in fourth place with Tsgabu Grmay in seventh on the day. The result saw Pardilla move up to third on the general classification with 21 year old, Grmay, now in sixth. Julien Arredondo won the stage in a move that also put him in the race lead.
“The team was incredible today and I am sad I could not win the stage but it’s ok,” Pardilla said. “Everyone in the team was really strong and professional and looked after us well. My feeling on the bike is good even though I am not on top form yet. I need more time on the bike to get better and get to the best form. I am good now but not very very good yet.
“Tsgabu today was very strong but the last kilometer was very long for him. He is a very good rider and I am very happy for him. The team today was very professional and we have incredible riders.”
Dennis van Niekerk, who started the day in fifth overall, suffered stomach issues before the stage. Grmay took up a leadership position after van Niekerk’s misfortune.
“The climb was good and long but very steep,” Grmay explained after the stage. “Meron [Russom] controlled for us when the GreenEdge guy was in the breakaway, and when we started the climb, Europcar was pacing. After that Jacques [Janse van Rensburg] took control on the front and did an amazing job. There were only six riders left with Sergio and me in there and then the winner attacked with a GreenEdge rider. After a while I was third on the road but started getting tired. Sergio caught me with 2km to go. The last kilometer I was very tired and two other riders caught me. The climb was hard but it was a very good day for us.”
The performance saw Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung extend its lead in the team competition to 09’32″ after Janse van Rensburg finished 13th on the day.
Team Principal, Douglas Ryder, commented on the day’s events saying, “Tsgabu is the first Ethiopian professional bike rider and his performance shows the depth and talent in cycling across Africa. These results are very encouraging for us as it shows the amount of time and money our infrastructure and especially our sponsors are investing in the riders is worth it and encouraging for the future of African cycling.”