SEREMBAN: After three near misses, Human Powered Health sprinter Sasha Weemaes finally clinched a much-needed victory in the penultimate stage of the Petronas Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) today.
The seventh stage started in Muar and finished in Seremban 2 (123.8km).
The Belgian rider timed his sprint to perfection in the final straight, which featured a slight incline, hitting the finish line in two hours, 31 minutes and 45 seconds.
Tudor Pro Cycling Team’s Arvid de Klijn, who has already won two stages in the tour this year, settled for second, while Astana Qazaqstan’s Gleb Syritsa completed the podium.
Weemaes had earlier finished second in both the first and sixth stages, as well as third in the fourth stage.
“The finish (straight) was uphill today and there was a lot of headwind,” said Weemaes.
“I couldn’t really get into the slipstream today. so timing was really important.
“After finishing on the podium a number of times, I was really happy to be able to win this time.”
Human Powered Health are reported to be closing down at the end of the season.
Weemaes is hoping his win will boost both his and his teammates’ chances of securing contracts with other teams for next season.
“A couple of months ago, my future was not well (uncertain). I have had a really bad year with a lot of problems with my health,” he added.
“My goal was to go all out in Malaysia and go for the win. My manager is now busy talking with (a number of) teams.
“Our teammates are also without a contract (for next season). If any teams want to find new lead-out (riders), you can find (them) in our team.”
De Kleijn strengthened his grip on the orange jersey (sprinters classification) after taking maximum points at the first two intermediate sprints at Umbai and Cheng.
Terengganu Polygon Cycling Team’s (TSG) Jambaljamts Sainbayar, who was again in the breakaway today, took the third sprint in Linggi.
De Kleijn leads the sprinters classification with 63 points, 15 more than Weemaes, who is second.
Astana’s Vadim Pronskiy continues to lead the Asian riders classification (white jersey) with a 2:04s advantage over second-placed Jambaljamts.
EF Education-EasyPost’s Simon Carr, who safely crossed the line 29th today in the same group as Weemaes, continues to lead the general classification with a 49s advantage over teammate Jefferson Alexander Cepeda.
The Welshman is confident of wrapping up the overall title tomorrow.
“Everyday is a day closer (to winning) and I am looking forward to hopefully getting it done,” said Carr.
“But it’s never over until it’s over. We just have to stay focused and continue carrying on with what we have been doing. I think we have done really well every day.
“For me, I am pretty confident (of winning tomorrow). I think it will be another day for the sprinters with less climbing than today.
“It should be a nice and straightforward finish.”
Simon Pellaud (Tudor Pro) leads the mountains classification (polka dot jersey) on 32 points. Carr is second with 20 points.
The eighth and final stage tomorrow will start in Shah Alam and finish in Kuala Lumpur city centre (156.5km).