MELAKA – DUTCH sprinter Arvid de Kleijn won a tight bunch sprint into the finish line of Stage 6 at Dataran Pahlawan here to deliver Tudor Cycling Team’s their second stage win in the PETRONAS Le Tour de Langkawi 2023.
It was a tight tussle against Human Power Health’s Sasha Weemaes who fought hard before losing out narrowly at the line to de Kleijn, who now became the first rider to win two stages this year, apart from being the second Dutch who won in Melaka, after Jan Koerts in 2001.
Astana Qazaqstan’s Gleb Syritsa, winner of Stage 2, came in third with the same time of 4:08.19s.
Simon Carr of EF Education-EasyPost stayed out of trouble, arriving safely in the bunch to remain in the overall leader’s PETRONAS Green Jersey for the second day, still 49 and 59 seconds ahead of teammate Alexander Jefferson Cepeda Ortiz and Pablo Castrillo (Equipo Kern Pharma) respectively.
De Kleijn, who was racing without his sprint leader’s jersey due to some technical issues, remained in KBS Orange Sprinters’ Jersey for the sixth day with a healthy 45 points, nine and 11 points ahead of closest rivals Enrico Zanoncello (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizane) and Gleb Syritsa (Astana Qazaqstan) respectively.
“I’m happy to know that I’m the second Dutch to win here in Melaka. But most importantly, I’m happy to deliver this win for the team. It was really tight at the end and we were struggling a bit towards the line. I had maybe one acceleration left but, in the end, got it under control at the right time and managed to finish it off,” said De Kleijn, adding that the team will be going hard for wins in the last two stages.
Second-placed Sasha Weemaes, who lost out to de Kleijn in Stage 1 and third behind Daniel Babor (Caja Rural) and George Jackson (Bolton Equities) in Stage 4, said he had a perfect lead out in the final dash but went off too early.
“I had a good lead out, but went off a bit early…Arvid was just stronger today,” he said.
Meanwhile, Tudor’s Simon Pellaud remained in the TOURISM MALAYSIA Red Polka Dot jersey with a 12-point lead over EF Education’s Simon Carr and with no mountain stages in the last two stages, the Swiss rider is poised to be crowned King of Mountains of the 27th edition.
Kazakh’s Vadim Pronsky (Astana Qazaqstan) kept the BEAUTIFUL TERENGGANU White Jersey for Best Asian Rider intact after finishing today’s stage with a total time of 23:34.44s, 2mins.07s ahead of Terengganu Polygon Cycling Team’s Jambaljamts Sainbayar.
Sainbayar tried hard to close the gap by breaking away early but to no avail despite finishing as the best Asian rider in 14th today. The Mongolian rider was also voted as BUBBLES 02 Most Combative Rider of the day.
While climbers were happy to stay back and take respite after yesterday’s gruelling climb, sprinters were aggressive from the start with early attacks before the first intermediate sprint.
EF Education, current Team GC leader, kept the peloton well under control, securing Carr’s position as the overall leader for the second day.
“It’s great to be in the leader’s jersey, it’s truly special. I’m happy with my current form, having won a stage in Genting, and now wearing this leader’s jersey, it’s already a victory for me,” said the 25-year-old Briton.
It will be another flat journey in tomorrow’s penultimate Stage 7 from Muar to Seremban 2 which offers three intermediate sprints at Umbai (28.6 km), Cheng (47.8km) and Linggi (91km).
Another fast action is on the cards as sprinters charge hard for a podium finish at Dataran Centrio in Seremban 2.