IPOH: An almost perfect lead-out into the final turn allowed Caja Rural-Seguros RGA’s Daniel Babor to clinch a well-deserved victory in the fourth stage of Petronas Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) today.
With only one category three climb in Kuala Kangsar to contend with, the 140.2km-stage, which started in Bukit Mertajam and ended in Meru Raya, was destined for a bunch sprint finish.
Babor, 23, outkicked stage three winner George Jackson (Bolton Equities Black Spoke) to secure the win in three hours, six minutes and five seconds.
Human Powered Health’s Sasha Weemaes completed the podium.
Czech Republic-born Babor was all smiles at the post-stage presser.
“It (the win) is not unexpected because I have very good guys (teammates) here with me,” said Babor, who had never raced in Malaysia prior to this.
“We (with Tomas Barta and Gorka Sorarrain) had a very good plan, which was to go full gas in the last 1km to make sure we would be first and second going into the last corner, and we were able to do it.
“This win means a great deal to the team and I. As I have said before, I really struggled this year but in the final (part) of the season I have been able to have a good race.”
Jackson’s second place finish was enough to move him into the green jersey (general classification) with a six second advantage over Enrico Zanoncello (Green Project-Bardiani CSF-EasyPost), who is now second.
The Asian riders classification (white jersey) also has a new leader, Ratchanon Yaowarat (Thailand Continental Cycling Team), who crossed the line first (Bagan Serai) and third (Taland) at the intermediate sprints, which earned him bonus seconds.
He leads with a marginal four second advantage over teammate Thanakhan Chaiyasombat. National team rider Nur Aiman Rosli, who took charge of the white jersey after the third stage, is now third (+4s).
Arvid de Kleijn (Tudor Pro Cycling Team), who crossed the line eighth today, remains in charge in the sprinters classification with 30 points.
The fourth stage today was akin to the calm before the storm in the general classification competition.
The fifth stage tomorrow will start from Slim River and end with a hors categorie climb up to Genting Highlands (126.4km).
Mountains classification leader Simon Pellaud (Tudor Pro), who has an eight point advantage over second placed Luca Covili (Bardiani CSF), is confident of retaining the polka dot jersey.
“The third stage (Monday) suited me the best so I went for it and managed to place first in the first three climbs. (Keeping) the polka dot jersey became a target from then on,” said Pellaud at the same press conference.
“Tomorrow will be the big day for this (polka dot) jersey. Covili is there with 12 points and he could go for it.
“But I think Simon Carr (EF Education-EasyPost) is the main favourite for the Genting Highlands climb.
“I came for a holiday here (Malaysia) with my ex-girlfriend about six or seven years ago and was able to go to Genting Highlands, so I do remember the climb.
“It (the trip) turned out to be a good (course) recon. I made it a point to at least race once here (Malaysia) since then.”
Pellaud, a keen traveller, said he enjoyed eating keropok lekor in Terengganu during the first stage of the tour last week.