KOTA BHARU: With an eye on tomorrow’s third stage, Terengganu Polygon cycling Team (TSG) decided to give mountains classification defending champion Nur Aiman Zariff a rest in today’s second stage from Kuala Terengganu to Kota Bharu (186.2km).
TSG’s experienced all-rounder Nur Amirull Fakhruddin Mazuki was instead sent up the road and did not disappoint as he took maximum points at Pelong and Setiu (both category four climbs).
Amirull, who ended the day with four points, thus took the polka dot jersey away from Aiman (three points).
Tomorrow’s third stage from Jeli to Baling (183.1km) will feature four climbs at Puncak Titiwangsa (category one), Jeli and Seri Banding (both category two) and Sungai Rui (category three).
“The plan today was to be part of the breakaway group and disrupt the mountains classification points (for rivals),” said Amrull.
“This was to give Aiman a rest because tomorrow’s stage will be one for the climbers.
“By going on the breakaway myself, Aiman will be able to push harder tomorrow (due to fresher legs).
“I am expecting there to be plenty of changes in the standings after tomorrow’s stage because there will be a lot of long climbs.”
The bunch sprint in the second stage, however, did not go to plan for both TSG and the Malaysia national team.
“There was a split in the route in the final kilometre and we stayed on the left side which unfortuntely was the longer path to the finish line,” said Amirull.
National team sprinter Izzat Hilmi Abdul Halil echoed Amirull’s sentiments.
“It was a bit hectic because the road split into two paths and those who took the inside (right side) had the advantage,” said Izzat, who finished fourth in the first stage.
“The gap was big in the end and it was just too much to close down. It was a missed opportunity but I will try to come back and fight for the podium in our remaining stages.”
Izzat crossed the line 23rd while TSG sprinter Harrif Saleh settled for 15th.