Apr 30, 2012
EARLE BAGS HIS SECOND WIN AND TORCKLER VIRTUALLY SEALS OVERALL VICTORY
It was Earle's second stage win in the inaugural edition of the Tour of Borneo after he won the second stage from Tawau to Lahad Datu on Saturday, but it wasn't enough to shed time and wrest the yellow jersey from a highly impressive Michael Torckler of the Pure Black Racing Team.
Earle crossed the finish line with overall leader Torckler right behind him as the duo jostled for the victory after breaking free from a group of 13 breakaway riders that started the final climb of the grueling 214.8km stage together.
From the start of the stage seven riders had escaped the bunch and as the group of 13 riders which included Torckler and Earle started the final 15 kilometres they caught the first of two remnants of that group, 7-Eleven by Road Bike Philippines' Mark John Lexer Galedo, and then Genesys Wealth Advisers' Jonathan Lovelock with 14 kilometres to go.
With three kilometres to go, it was Earle, Torckler and Polygon-Sweet Nice's Bambang Suryadi, who was dropped as the leading duo raced up the final two kilometres. At the finish, and realizing that he had retained the yellow jersey, Torckler just cruised over the finish line behind Earle, who added the red jersey for the king of the mountains classification to his stage win.
"It was a tough, long stage, but I like the climbs so I'm happy to have won here. The plan was to go for the yellow jersey, but Michael was amazingly strong today. There was nothing we could do to break him," said Earle.
Heading into the final stage, Torckler holds a six seconds lead over Earle in the general classification and hopes everything goes well in the stage from Kundasang to Kota Kinabalu tomorrow.
"I've not rode in such a long stage for a long time, so I'm happy that my body kept up with it. It's such a great feeling to be able to ride like this after being out of the sport for a year as I recovered from a broken knee cap," said Torckler.
"Tomorrow, I hope all of my teammates are in good shape for the final stage. We need to control the race and bring the yellow jersey to the finish."
Malaysia's Shahrul Mat Amin of the Terengganu Cycling Team produced an impressive performance in the stage, finishing fourth behind Earle, Torckler and Bambang to take over the Malaysian riders white jersey.
"My coach's instructions were for me to stay in the front group and try to climb. So I tried to stay with the riders in the front and managed to do so until the final climb, then the leaders just went away and I was running out of steam. All I could do was watch," said Shahrul.
"I am happy to have taken the Malaysian riders jersey, but quite disappointed that I couldn't do enough to take the Asian riders' jersey."
Kazakhstan's Sergey Kuzmin finished seventh in the stage and took charge of the Asian riders classification lead by the skin of his teeth, being tied on time with Tonton Susanto of Indonesia's Putra Perjuangan team, while Shahrul is third, just three seconds adrift.
The Tour of Borneo ends with a 112.4km final stage from Kundasang to Kota Kinabalu tomorrow.
The 2.2 category Tour is sanctioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and is listed in UCI Asian Tour calendar, it is hoped to promote Sabah as the ultimate sports tourism destination in Malaysia, and promote cycling in the state.
Tour of Borneo covers a total distance of 758.4 kilometer, will start from Semporna and will pass through pictureque locations of Tawau, Lahad Datu, Sandakan, Sepilok, Kundasang and ends in Kota Kinabalu. 19 professional teams consisting of continental, national and club teams have confirmed their participation and will be accompanied by over 520 race officials.
In addition to a challenging route, Tour of Borneo will also held at a time of various festivals held in Sabah such as Regatta Lepa Lepa, Sabah Fest, Borneo International Marathon and Kadazan Harvest Festival celebrations which kicks off on 1st May, providing an opportunity for fans from within and outside the country to experience the joy of a holiday in the state.
Tour of Borneo is monitored by UCI President Commissaire from New Zealand, Zac Prendergast. The organizer’s main objective is to promote interest in cycling among the younger generations in Sabah, and expose Malaysian riders to more international level competition, thus contributing to the development of cycling in Malaysia.