Feb 28, 2017

Jakub Mareczko makes it two in Rembau

An emotional finish for Jakub, his second time winning in Rembau

TEAL jersey goes to Jakub Mareczko

REMBAU, 28 February 2017 : Tipped as the hot favourites for the bunch sprint finishes this year, Italy’s Jakub Mareczko of Wilier Triestina became the first rider to win two stages at this year’s Le Tour de Langkawi as claimed stage 6 to Rembau after he opened his season’s account in Pantai Remis on day 3.
He’s unbeaten in Rembau where he took his first ever Malaysian success one year ago and therefore announced himself for filling the shoes of Andrea Guardini who holds the record of stage victories with 22. Also a diminutive sprinter, Mareczko moved into the lead of the points competition while Ryan Gibbons, fifth on the line, retained the yellow jersey.
“I put my team at the front in the final kilometers with [Filippo] Pozzato, [Alberto] Cecchin and [Rafael] Andriato to lead me out”, Mareczko explained. “There was a curve with 400 metres to go.
Cecchin took it in first position. After Andriato’s last pull, I opened my sprint. It feels very good to get a second stage win. I’m very happy today. After winning a stage, my goal this year was to get the points jersey. Now I have it and I hope to defend it tomorrow by trying to get another first place. I’m hoping for a sunny day to conclude Le Tour de Langkawi after the pouring rain we’ve had today.”
“My priority was to retain the yellow jersey”, echoed Gibbons. “It was nice to have the teal as well but Mareczko is a top quality rider. He’s fast! I’m not too disappointed. I’m happy for him but I hope I’ll get it back tomorrow. I was feeling very good today, also under the rain. I was cautious on the wet. It was easy to go down. Just stay upright and out of trouble, that was my concern. Tomorrow’s stage is short.
It’s going to be very aggressive. But we’re ready for it. I’m so thankful for the help I got from my team-mates. There’s one more day. I’m strongly hoping that I’ll be in yellow in Putrajaya as well.”
Veteran WorldTour rider Greg Henderson of Unitedhealthcare was awarded the combativity prize of the day after being the driving force behind the main breakaway of the day with Jacopo Mosca (Wilier Triestina), Huang En (Keyi Look), Dominic Perez (7/11) and escape artist Loh Sea Keong (Thailand Continental Team).

The conclusive stage of the 22nd Le Tour de Langkawi will be 121km long from Setiawangsa (Kuala Lumpur) to Putrajaya.

Feb 27, 2017

Enrico Barbin breaks the ice for Bardiani CSF

Team's seem to like the rain as it's cooling

Enrico Barbin takes the stage in Muar

The team celebrates

Anthony Giacoppo in 2nd and Filippo Pozzato in 3rd place

The leaders after stage 6

MUAR, 27 Feb 2017 : Just like Mekseb Debesay and Ryan Gibbons in the two previous stages, Italy’s Enrico Barbin opened his professional account at the 2017 Le Tour de Langkawi as he claimed his first victory at the age of 26 in Muar. He outsprinted Australia’s Anthony Giacoppo of IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness and his compatriot Filippo Pozzato from Wilier Triestina to deliver Bardiani CSF’s first win of the year and their first stage victory at LTdL since Marco Canola won solo in Kuantan in 2012.
The Italian squad managed by the Reverberis, father and son, is the oldest participant to LTdL, having made their first appearance as Scrigno in 1998 with five stage wins that year including the first ever as a pro for Alessandro Petacchi. Their organization is also the most successful in terms of stage victories in the history of the Malaysian premier stage race as Barbin bagged their 35th while Gianni Savio’s team now called Androni is second on the tally with 24, followed by the currently named Wilier Triestina outfit with 16.
“It’s an honour for me to become part of this history”, Barbin declared. “I was feeling well and my whole team too [his team-mate Lorenzo Rota was up the road for most of the stage along with Colombia’s Wilmar Paredes and Hong Kong’s Ronald Yeung who was awarded the daily prize of most combative rider]. I’m not fast enough to beat the fastest sprinters here but I took advantage of them. Through the radio, we had perfect explanation of the finale and where the wind was blowing from so it was a question of getting the best position over the bridge and anticipate the sprint with 300 metres to go.”
“We were working for [stage 3 winner Jakub] Mareczko”, Pozzato explained. “But Unitedhealthcare attacked in the wind after the bridge. Kuba followed them but it was a bit far away from the line. Barbin has been smart accelerating from behind. I went after him but I got blocked for a little while and when I resumed my sprint with no speed it was too difficult and too late.”
As much as Pozzato replaced Mareczko due to sprinting circumstances, Giacoppo found himself as a substitute for Scott Sunderland. “We were going for Scott”, the Western Australian said, “but he got caught out of position in the last corner so I went myself. When we caught Mareczko, I hesitated a bit. Maybe I should have kept going.”
“Safety first was at the back of my mind but I definitely wanted to be in the sprint”, commented Gibbons who retained the yellow jersey.
“Going over the bridge when we turned right, we were behind Unitedhealthcare but we lost the wheels and four of their riders and Mareczko got away. I spent all my energy trying to close the gap because I didn’t want to lose any time on the UHC rider who is high on GC [Daniel Jaramillo]. I brought the peloton with me but when the proper sprint started I already made my effort so I just focused on not crashing.”
“Today was the first day in the Tour that I wasn’t at 100%. Normally I feel good racing in the rain but I only found my legs in the third hour. Maybe the rain was a little factor. There was no real stress though. I see two more sprint opportunities. It would be really good to bring the yellow jersey home.” He concluded.

Stage 7 from the historical city of Melaka to Rembau will be 148km long with three climbs in the finale.

Feb 26, 2017

Ryan Gibbons, the breakthrough

Ryan's first professional win, happened in Kuala Kubu Bharu

Loads of hugs are in order

The podium for Stage 5

Ryan also took the Teal Jersey from Travis McCabe

KUALA KUBU BHARU : Race leader Ryan Gibbons of Dimension Data claimed his first pro victory at the end of stage 5 of the 22nd Le Tour de Langkawi in Kuala Kubu Baru where he outsprinted stage 3 winner Jakub Mareczko and stage 2 winner Travis McCabe. The 22 year old South African also increased his lead in the overall ranking from 11 to 23 seconds over Australia’s Cameron Bayly as he also collected two seconds bonus on the way.
“Getting second on stage 1, that was a sense of achievement but today my first pro win is more a relief than anything else and I’m just so happy to finally get a win for the team and also for myself”, Gibbons commented.
“This result will stay for the rest of my career. On a good day on a flat road, I can win a bunch sprint but today with a bit of a drag and the road surface being bricks, it suited me a bit more but moreover my team put me in a perfect position. I would have been hard not to win. I’m really grateful for their help.”
“I wasn’t targeting the intermediate sprints”, the race leader continued. “It was more riding defensively. Every time with 1km to the sprint we so IsoWhey moving up. They had the teal jersey with Sunderland but Bayly was also up there so I had just had to make sure I’d finish in front of him. I’ve managed to pick up four points and two seconds. It was mainly watching the guys on GC, not worrying too much and not attacking them. The teal jersey is a great award but my focus for now is the yellow jersey. If it happens that I can win it as well, I’ll be grateful though.”
The whole stage was marked by one breakaway only. After fifty kilometers covered at a very high speed, Italy’s Fausto Masnada rode away, got a maximum advantage of 3.50 and sat up after the last intermediate sprint with just over 20km to go as the bunch was certainly going to reel him in.
“We wanted to ride offensively today since yesterday it didn’t go that well for us”, the Androni Giocattoli rider said the day his team manager Gianni Savio attended Le Tour de Langkawi. “We expected something more [the yellow jersey with Egan Bernal]. We started today with the idea to break away. After 50km, seeing that big groups weren’t going anywhere, I tried by himself, hoping that I’d get some help but nobody followed so I continued on my own. I never got bored. I’m happy I did it. I also came here looking for a good shape ahead of the races in Italy, so it’s been a good day.”
Stage 6 from Senawang to Muar will be 176.3km long with three climbs to start with in the first 45km

Feb 25, 2017

Debesay torments Cameron in the Cameron Highlands

The riders at the start of the climb

Mekseb crosses the line in style

Top 3 of stage 4

Jersey leaders after stage 4

Mekseb Debesay in all smiles

CAMERON HIGHLANDS, 25 February 2017 : Dimension Data continued its winning streak with Eritrea’s Mekseb Debesay coming first atop the mythical Cameron Highlands, beating Australia’s Cameron Bayly by the length of a bike while Ryan Gibbons, third on the line only four seconds later, retained the yellow jersey and therefore gave the South African outfit a good chance to become the first team to win three Le Tour de Langkawi in a row after Youcef Reguigui and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg did so in 2015 and 2016.
“This is my first big victory”, reacted Debesay who only joined the WorldTour giants last year. “We rode together with my team-mates all day. The finale was quite hard but I followed some good riders and I outsprinted them. It was always my childhood dream in Africa to become a successful professional cyclist. It’s a dream come true now. I’ve been inspired by my compatriots Daniel Teklehaimanot and Natnael Berhane. They’re my heroes and I want to ride the Grand Tours like them in the same way I did today.”
Bayly of IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness moved up to second overall as he finished right behind Debesay and ahead of a group of nine riders who surge atop the final climb and comprised hot favourites Egan Bernal and Daniel Jaramillo as well as race leader Gibbons. “This is definitely a good result”, Bayly analyzed. “I’m a little bit disappointed to get second and not to win, being so close, but at the end of the day I was just not quick enough for the sprint. There were quite a few attacks before.
The Androni team was really aggressive. Bernal was very strong. I attacked with 1.5km to go. The Dimension Data rider came to wheel. I had to lead the sprint out. It’s good to be second on GC. We’ve got another four stages to go with a few of our riders in the top ten. We’ll try to shake things out, we’re not gonna leave it.”
Gibbons who expected to be in yellow for the last time saved his jersey and became the favourite for the overall classification as he’s got potential to improve his lead throughout the time bonuses in the upcoming sprints. “I’m more shocked than you guys are to still lead the race”, the South African said.
“A group of guys rode away but my team mates kept looking back and saw that I was coming across. Thankfully they didn’t put the pace on. They did a good job making sure that I was still up there. Jacques Janse van Rensburg brought me back to the front a few times. Nothing in my history proved that I could climb that well. This is new for me. I was not bluffing. It’s a surprise for me that I’ve been able to stay up there.”

Stage 5 from Meru Raya to Kuala Kubu Bahru, close to Kuala Lumpur, on a distance of 151.5km, should suit the sprinters.