SEREMBAN: The Petronas Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) has not gone to plan for Terengganu Polygon Cycling Team (TSG) sprinter Harrif Saleh.
Still recovering from the brutal climb up to Genting Highlands (fifth stage), both Harrif and Malaysia national team sprinter Izzat struggled in the last 3km of today’s seventh stage (Muar-Seremban 2).
Harrif (28th) and Izzat (91st) both finished in the main group, but were unable to make an impact in the sprint.
Harrif, 35, remained hopeful of challenging for the podium in the eighth and final stage tomorrow.
“The pace today was really quick right from the start and my (physical) condition was not the best,” said Harrif.
“The last 3km were uphill, which did not make things easier. I told (teammate) Youcef Reguigui (6th) to go for the sprint.
“There is still a chance (of making the podium tomorrow). We have been trying our best, but things have not clicked for us.
“Additionally, a lot of the riders here this year have just come from world-level races in Europe and they are in very good form.
“The last UCI ProSeries tour I competed in was the Tour of Oman (in February).”
LTdL is also a UCI ProSeries tour. It is the third tier after the Grand Tours and WorldTour races.
With three stage wins (2019-2020) to his name, the Kuala Terengganu-born is the most successful Malaysian rider in the history of LTdL.
But Harrif has not had the best of luck in this edition of the race.
In the second stage on Sunday, his team unknowingly took the longer route to the final straight. In the fourth stage on Tuesday, he dropped his chain in the last kilometre. Both incidents hampered his chances of finishing on the podium.
The eighth and final stage tomorrow will start in Shah Alam and finish in Kuala Lumpur city centre (156.5km).