Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Cycling / le tour de langkawi: Convincing start for Malaysia

Ahmad Haidar Anuawar was Malaysia's best finisher of the day, coming seventh in the bunch sprint finish won by Diquigiovanni-Androni Gioccatoli's Mattia Gavazzi, but was disappointed by a crucial split second mistake that cost the national team a better finish.

Haidar was doing the lead-out for top sprinter Anuar Manan, entering the final metres of the race, but his lapse in judgement had both of them scrambling for positions at the finish.

"I was leading Anuar to the front and we planned to get behind the Diquigiovanni train. As I got there, I moved left to open for Anuar, thinking he would latch on to Gavazzi's wheel.

"Then suddenly the Diquigiovanni train moved to the right and Anuar was trapped. All we could do was just sprint for ourselves from then on," said Haidar.
The earlier part of the 133.8km stage saw the MNCF Continental team's Akmal joining the longest breakaway of the day, that went off prior to the first intermediate sprint at the 38-kilometre point in Kajang.

The escape included South Africa's Jaco Venter and Kazakhstan's Dmitry Gruzdev.

But of the trio, 22-year old Akmal came out the worst, having to settle for second spot in the contest for the VW blue jersey for the Asian riders' classification lead by two seconds from Gruzdev on time bonuses.

Akmal did, however, end the breakaway on a high, winning the third intermediate sprint at the 93.8km point into Nilai after finishing third in the previous two sprints.

Venter took the Genting polka dot jersey after winning the category four climb, 73.6km into the stage in Bukit Puyoh.

Akmal was second at that climb and just as in the Asian riders' classification, is second in the mountains classification and fifth in the general classification.

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