LANGKAWI: French rider Johan Le Bon of B&B Hotels Vital Concept team fended off a strong challenge from other sprinters at the finish line to clinch victory at the Malaysian International Classic Race, involving a distance of 159km in Kuah here today.
The 2008 world junior road race champion defeated Australian rider Jesse Ewart of Team Sapura Cycling and fellow countrymen Lucas De Rossi of Nippo Delko One in the 2020 Le Tour de Langkawi post-race cycling event.
For his feat, Le Bon pocketed RM10,000 and and also 125 UCI world ranking points, while Ewart and De Rossi who came in second and third, received RM5,500 and 85 points and also RM3,000 and 70 points, respectively.
National rider, Muhamad Nur Aiman Zariff, followed up his historic Red Jersey title in the 2020 LTdL race, yesterday by taking the Best Climber title with 11 points and took home RM1,000.
Speaking at the post-race press conference, Le Bon, 29 was delighted with his maiden victory this season, ending his long title drought since took the pre-race stage victory at the Tour de I’Ain cycling tournament in his country in 2017.
“I was quite tired because it was a tough race and also because we had just completed LTdL the day before, everyone was tired. But I attacked in the finale with the Sapura rider (Ewart) and the plan was to just stay ahead of the chasing group and luckily we managed to do that,” according to Le Bon.
He is not also ruling out the possibility of making a return to the LTdL race in the future after enjoying his successful debut in the Asian premier cycling race.
Sharing his sentiments was Ewart who was quite happy with today’s results despite being pipped at the finish line, this after Sapura riders had dominated the front group during the one-day race.
“It was okay. We tried to make the race difficult. But in the last climb we saw a chance with the attack, but he just had a little bit extra,” added the 25-year-old rider who finished sixth overall at the recent Jayco Herald Sun Tour, early this month in his country.
Muhamad Nur Aiman, 22, meanwhile was also overjoyed with his Best Climber title, saying that he tried very hard to remain with the front pack before giving it his all just as the bunch approached the climb zone.– BERNAMA
New Straits Times, 15 February 2020