A solo push inside the final five kilometres from a group of 16 initial breakaway riders gave Blanco Pro Cycling’s Thomas Leezer a deserved victory in Stage 6, Le Tour de Langkawi 2013’s longest stage from Mentakab to Kuantan today.
Leezer, 27, who hails from The Hague in The Netherlands and joined the Blanco team previously known as Rabobank in 2008, broke away from the lead group to cross the finish line alone in 4 hours 33 minutes and 42 seconds.
He finished 27 seconds ahead of South Korea’s Jung Ji Min of KSPO and 35 seconds ahead of Michal Golas (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) while another breakaway member Jackson Rodriguez (Androni Giocattoli) barely managed to stay ahead of a surging peloton to win the bunch sprint for fourth place ahead of Astana’s Andrea Guardini, the holder of the blue jersey for the points classification lead.
The result of the day did not affect the overall lead of Team Nippo-De Rosa’s Julian David Arredondo of Colombia, while Hengxiang’s Wang Meiyin’s Asian riders’ classification lead also remained intact.
Meiyin however regained the Genting red jersey as the leader of the mountains classification which he lost to Arredondo by a point on Monday;s Genting Highlands stage, after he managed to win the category 4 mountains hot spot in Sungai Piul.
Leezer’s victory meant the Blanco team made it three victories so far in their LTdL debut, although the day started with news that their top sprinter Theo Bos had pulled out of the race after struggling with flu the past two days.
IT was the Blanco team’s 10th victory this season and a sweet one for Leezer who had only recently returned to competetive cycling after recovering from a broken shoulder and vertebrae suffered following a crash during a bunch sprint in a race in Belgium last year.
“I think I must have tried 30 or 40 times to breakaway during this stage and thanfully the last one was a good one. It was a different kind of experience, but a happy one.
“I’m very happy with this win, especially for our team. We have been racing really well as we all need to prove ourselves as we lost our main sponsor (Rabobank) last year, so this drives the team forward,” said Leezer.
“I’m also relieved with this win. Actually I thought I was lucky to be here to start this race, but now I’ve shown that I can also be competitive.”
Today’s stage, of which the final 50 kilometres were run under heavy torrential rain, saw multiple breakaaway attempts right from the beginning.
Malaysia’s Anuar Manan of the Synergy-Baku Cycling Project moved up to second in the points classification behind Guardini after taking first place in the first intermediate sprint of the day then finishing 10th.
“Today I tried to get points in intermediate sprint zones to add to my tally even though it was really hard as the peloton was really fast. After this all the mountains are gone, it is all flat. So I know this is when I have to start making it count and deliver a stage win,” said Anuar.
Stage 7 tomorrow moves into Terengganu with a 146.5 kilometre route from Kuantan to Dungun, where the sprinters are expected to take center stage.
Stage 6 Brief Results:
- Leezer,Thomas – BLA Blanco Pro Cycling Team 4h33’42”
- Jung,Ji Min – KSP KSPO @ 27″
- Golas,Michal – OPQ Omega Pharma-Quickstep @ 35″
- Rodriguez,Jackson – AND Androni Giocattoli – Venezuela s.t.
- Meyer,Travis – OGE Orica Greenedge s.t.
General Classification After Stage 6:
- Arredondo M.,Julian D – PPO Team Nippo – De Rosa 22h17’48”
- Weening,Pieter – OGE Orica Greenedge @ 01’16”
- Pardilla,Sergio – MTN MTN Qhubeka @ 02’10”
- Stetina,Peter – GRS Garmin – Sharp @ 02’32”
- Wang,Meiyin – HEN Hengxiang Cycling Team @ 02’40”