LABUAN, 1 November 2015 : Dutchman Jos Koop showed what he is capable of as he fended off Sea Games gold medalist Mohd Hariff Saleh among others to take the second stage of the Tour of Borneo yesterday.
Koop (CCN Cycling Team) felt the heat from not only the opposition but also the weather as he came out tops in the Labuan round island stage in three hours 10 minutes and 15 seconds, just ahead of Latvian Andris Smirnovs (Rietmu-Delfin Continental Cycling Team) and Mohd Hariff (Terengganu Cycling Team) in a bunch sprint finish.
The 27-year-old, who also bagged the green jersey (points classification) for his efforts, was happy he managed to emerge victorious despite the challenges faced.
"It was definitely a tough race, I am just not used to the hot conditions here," said Koop.
"I am glad I managed to keep up and get myself in a good position towards the end. I want to keep this (green) jersey until the end but I know I will have to fight for it. There are still another three stages and I know it will get tougher from here."
Mohd Hariff said he was slightly disappointed not to take the win but is hoping to make amends in the remaining three stages of the Tour of Borneo.
"My positioning was not that great towards the end and I had to work hard to get myself in the right place," said Mohd Hariff, who is arguably the best Malaysian sprinter at the moment.
"By the time I did (get into position) I had lost my momentum and was already a little tired in the final sprint.
"But it is still a decent result and I will try to do better tomorrow." He added.
Time trial winner Craig Evers (Data #3 Symantec Racing Team) of Australia and Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi both kept their yellow (general classification) and white (Asian classification) jerseys despite finishing 23rd and 20th in the stage. Fatahillah Abdullah (Indonesia national team) took charge of the red jersey (mountains classification).
Tour of Borneo is organized by Borneo International Cycling, held from 31st October to 4th November 2015. 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.