IPOH: Murphy’s law kicked into effect as both of Malaysia’s best sprinters were held back by the same issue in the fourth stage of Petronas Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) today.
It went wrong at the worst possible time for Terengganu Polygon Cycling Team’s (TSG) Harrif Saleh and national team rider Izzat Hilmi Abdul Halil as both dropped their chains during the closing stages of the race.
The fourth stage started in Bukit Mertajam and ended in Meru Raya, covering 140.2km.
Harrif said the issue cost him precious seconds, which he was not able to recover from.”I was in a decent position at the front during the last 2km,” said Harrif.
“But in the final kilometre, my chain came off the chainring and it took me about 10 seconds to rectify the situation and catch up.
“By then I was already a bit winded and all I could do was to just stay in the peloton.
“It is disappointing but you can’t really predict when issues like this are going to happen.”
Harrif settled for 16th on the day while Izzat crossed the line 20th.
Zulhelmi Zainal — Izzat’s lead-out man — was the highest placed Malaysian, crossing the line 11th on the day.
“Izzat was still behind me during the last 500m but in the final 100m his chain came off,” said Zulhelmi.
“It (road) was bumpy but there was also a bit of pushing and shoving, which is normal in the bunch.
“We will keep pushing hard, and hopefully, can get a podium finish in the last three stages.”
On a separate note, Zulhelmi’s teammate Nur Aiman Rosli said he was not too disappointed to lose the white jersey (Asian riders classification) to Ratchanon Yaowarat (Thailand Continental Cycling Team).
The latter claimed bonus seconds in the first and second intermediate sprints today and has a marginal four second advantage over Aiman.
“The queen stage (stage five) is tomorrow, So if we went all out today, we wouldn’t have the legs (for tomorrow),” said Aiman.
“It is important for us to conserve some energy to make sure we are fresh for tomorrow’s climb.
“We will try our best to retake the white jersey at Genting Highlands.”
The fifth stage tomorrow will start from Slim River and end with a hors categorie climb up to Genting Highlands (126.4km), which usually determines the winner overall winner of LTdL.