Aug 21, 2013


Ghader Mizbani takes the stage win, the Asian, KOM and Yellow jerseys

Today's winners at Kundasang
Jersey leaders after today's stage

KUNDASANG, Wednesday  21 August 2013 - Tabriz Petrochemical's Ghader Mizbani emerged with a devastating victory in much anticipated Stage Four of the Tour of Borneo 2013, featuring the gruelling climb up to Kundasang today, to grab the overall lead, the Asian riders' classification and the king of the mountains leads.

The 38-year old Iranian, who escaped from the peloton with teammate Mirsamad Pourseyedigolakhour at the foot of the first category climb to Gunung Emas, completed the 147.1km stage in four hours 31 minutes and 51 seconds with both teammates crossing the finish line in the same time.

The Tabriz pair finished six minutes and 25 seconds ahead of third placed Joseph Cooper of Huon Salmon-Genesys, to register a massive lead in the general classification which is unlkely to be threatened in the final stage from Kundasang to Penampang tomorrow.

Malaysia's Anuar Manan of the Synergy-Baku Cycling Project, retained the green jersey as the points classification leader although he failed to add any points in the intermediate sprint in Tambunan today.

Making their debut in the Tour of Borneo after missing out on the race last year, Tabriz were hardly threatened, although Huon Salmon-Genesys rider Nathan Earle, last year's runner-up was expected to provide a stern challenge after winning the stage to Kundasang last year.

Tabriz's intentions were clear right from the moment they controlled the race to keep the peloton together and their attack at the foot of Gunung Emas.

Though chased by a pack of 10 riders, including Cooper, Earle and Synergy-Baku's John Ebsen, Mizbani and Mirsamad continued to pull a gap that extended to more than 10 minutes when they approached the intermediate sprint in Tambunan.

"This is our first time entering Tour of Borneo and we have never rode this route before. But because there were two difficult climbs, we wanted to be in front. The first climb to Gunung Emas was very difficult but we made an early attack to ensure victory," said Mizbani.

"This was out targeted stage and today was good for Tabriz because all our riders managed to do their job well," added Mizbani, who has now collected 30 points in the mountains classification.

On his advantage of 6 minutes 25 seconds over closer rival Cooper, entering the final stage from Kundasang to Penampang tomorrow, Mizbani said the big gap doesn't necessarily guarantee the yellow jersey will remain in their hands as anything could happen.

"We will still be careful tomorrow (Stage 5) because anything can happen, like accidents or mechanical problems," said Mizbani.

Meanwhile, Anuar went through an anxious moment when he was involved in a small accident right as the race was flagged off for the actual start at kilometre zero, when he crashed into the race director's car and suffered light injuries and mechanical problems.

He still maintains a 16-point advantage over closest rival Mehdi Sohrabi (Tabriz) in the points classification after managing to continue the race despite pain in his hands, knees and ankles.

"I hope I will be able to ride as normal tomorrow because it is important for me to continue collecting points at intermediate sprints and challenge for the stage victory. I hope the damage to my bicycle will not affect my chances," said Anuar, 27.

The best ranked Malaysian on the day was Loh Sea Keong (OCBC Singapore) who finished 17th, 18 minutes and 35 seconds behind Mizbani, while two other riders failed to finish the stage, meaning just 96 riders will start the final stage tomorrow.

Tabriz also strengthened their position in the teams classification with a total time of 45 hours 59 minutes and 09 seconds, more than 15 minutes ahead of Genesys.

The final stage tomorrow will cover 98km from Kundasang to Penampang will be the final chance for challengers to wrest their targeted jerseys, but the short route and flat finish is expected to see all four jerseys remain with the same riders.

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