ALOR SETAR, October 16 - Norwegian Erlend Blikra sprinted away to his first major professional win after finishing tops in Stage 6 of the 26th PETRONAS Le Tour de Langkawi 2022 which ended in Alor Setar today.
The 25-year-old lanky Uno-X Pro Cycling Team sprinter put himself in a good position to upstage the favourites and clinched the unexpected win in 3 hours 49 minutes 42 seconds.
It was Blikra’s first win in a major ProSeries race after coming in close in second spot behind Astana’s Gleb Syritsa in the first stage in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
Syritsa, among the leading favourites to win the stage, came in second followed by Lotto Soudal’s Rudiger Selig.
Sprints classification leader Max Kanter found himself in fifth and had to surrender the leader’s green jersey to Blikra, who is now the second Norwegian to win a stage in LTdL. Bjornar Vestol of Acceptcard Pro Cycling had won a stage in Johor Bharu in the 1999 edition of the race.
Racing in wet conditions throughout the 120.4km route with three intermediate sprints, an early breakaway comprising a six-men group which include local young rider Kee Zhie Yie were allowed to escape but were later pulled back into the peloton with 10km left of the route.
The Terengganu-born 19-year-old Kee, who is part of the Terengganu Polygon Cycling development team, showed great potential after coming in first in the third intermediate sprint in Sungai Petani, and second in the first two sprints in Penang Bridge and Bagan.
Blikra said there were no clear tactics from the top teams towards the final part of the race due to the rain and wet conditions. Lotto-Soudal, Astana and Alpecin were seen working extra hard to prepare their sprinters but in the end, Blikra paced the favourites before coming out from his position before launching a strong sprint.
“This is my first professional win and I’m very happy to be able to win it here. I’m really happy as we missed the win in the first stage and yesterday, we missed the breakaway.
"Today, perhaps due to the rain and slippery route, the sprint was less hectic. There were no clear tactics from the top teams, and I took full advantage of the situation, went out early and ensured my position till the finishing line,” said Blikra.
Blikra is now in green as the points classification leader after amassing 40 points with Gleb Syritsa following in a close second with only a point separating them. Movistar’s Max Kanter, who led the sprints classification yesterday, surrendered his position and pushed to third with 37 points.
Race leader Ivan Sosa remained in yellow despite a mechanical problem encountered in the later part of the race, with the same time advantage of 23 seconds over close contender Hugh Carthy of EF Education-EasyPost.
No changes in the King of Mountains’ red jersey as current leader Muhammad Nur Aiman of Terengganu Polygon Cycling Team prepare himself for tomorrow’s deciding stage in Gunung Raya (Stage 7).
Nur Aiman is now in the lead, tied with teammate Jambaljamts Sainbayar on 29 points, with Sosa following closely with 25 points.
Sanbayar, still the Asian leader, is also expected to give his all in tomorrow’s Category 1 climb Gunung Raya climb which at 864 metres, is Langkawi’s highest peak.
Tomorrow’s Stage 7 is expected to decide on the eventual overall winner but expect some stiff competition in the sprints as well as there are three intermediate sprints at Telaga Harbour (31.8km), Teluk Yu (45.1km) and Kuah at 63.8km point.
ABOUT LE TOUR de LANGKAWI
Le Tour de Langkawi is a stage race held in Malaysia mooted by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir, to put Malaysia on the world sporting and tourism map.
Held since 1996, the race usually begins in Langkawi and includes major landmarks such as Genting Highlands and Dataran Merdeka. The race is sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) as part of the UCI Asia Tour calendar and is the biggest cycle race in Asia.
Because of the reputation it holds, the race regularly attracts top teams from the World Tour as well as other pro continental, continental and national teams from Europe and Asia.
Established in 1974, Petroliam Nasional Berhad (“PETRONAS”) is Malaysia’s fully integrated oil and gas multinational ranked among the largest corporations on FORTUNE Global 500®.
As the custodian for Malaysia’s national oil and gas resources, we explore, produce and deliver energy to meet society’s growing needs. The growing demand for energy inspires and strengthens our purpose to steadily drive for new solutions and push boundaries towards a sustainable energy future.
For further information, please visit www.petronas.com
ABOUT HUMAN VOYAGE
Human Voyage (M) Sdn. Bhd is a sports event company that specialises in cycling events. The company has successfully organised the UCI MTB race in Langkawi (Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge) and has attracted many international top riders and repeat participants.
Previously, Human Voyage has also been entrusted with the responsibility of organising the 20th edition of LTdL in 2015 apart from 2019, 2020 and 2022 editions.