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Growing German efficiency

After taking the win in the Malaysian International Criterium warm-up race on Thursday, German Max Walscheid proved he is settling in well on Malaysian soil with another success yesterday.

The NTT Pro Cycling rider clinched the third stage of the Petronas Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) from Temerloh to Kuala Lumpur.

Walscheid got a hard earned victory in the 162.5km third stage.

The German, who came in second in stage two on Saturday, crossed the line first in three hours, 51 minutes and 42 seconds after a bunch sprint finish that ended in front of the Petronas Twin Towers.

Walscheid out-kicked Nippo Delko Provence's Riccardo Minali and Team Sapura Cycling's Ahmet Orken. Minali and Orken settled for second and third respectively.

Vino-Astana Motors worked hard throughout the first half of the day at the front of the peloton to maintain a gap to a small breakaway group, hoping to preserve the lead of their rider Yevgeniy Fedorov atop the general classification (GC).

NTT then made sure the peloton would force a bunch sprint as they set the pace in the latter stages, catching the last three riders in the break less than 500 metres from the finish.

Walscheid, 26, paid tribute to his teammates and vowed to repay the efforts of NTT's GC man Louis Meintjes in the queen stage today.

“I felt good in the climb (yesterday) but I still got dropped a bit,” said Walscheid.

“But in the end we showed a great team effort, the guys believed in my performance and we rode with everything we had.

“We needed all the resources we had to bring back the (breakaway) group and I am just incredibly happy to finish it off with a win.

“I also felt really proud to see Meintjes riding in front for us because he is our GC leader. Tomorrow we will go for the GC and I will work hard to support him.”

Federov, 19, was happy to keep the Petronas Yellow Jersey going into the queen stage but is aware of the huge task he faces today.

“We (yesterday) were trying to control the race from the start until the mountains and then the sprinter teams started to chase because they were looking for the stage win,” said Federov.

“For me, this is the first time I am in charge (of yellow) and of course I am very happy. I have had a lot of support and guidance from our team.

“Tomorrow is a very hard mountain stage, it will be tough for me but we also have other riders in the team who can climb well.”

Sapura's Nur Aiman Zariff was again in the breakaway group yesterday and won the categorised climbs at Bukit Damar and Bentong. He also finished second at Genting Sempah. His performance saw him taking charge of the red jersey (climbers classification).

The 156.1km fourth stage which starts in Putrajaya, will feature a brutal climb up to the finish line in Genting Highlands which has a maximum elevation of 1,650m.

RESULTS — Stage three (Temerloh to Kuala Lumpur, 162.5km), Stage: 1. Max Walscheid (Ger) NTT Pro Cycling 3:51:42s, 2. Riccardo Minali (Ita) Nippo Delko Provence, 3. Ahmet Orken (Tur) Team Sapura Cycling, 4. Georgios Bouglas (Gre) SSOIS Miogee Cycling Team, 5. Giovanni Lonardi (Ita) Bardiani CSF Faizane — all same time.

General classification (Petronas yellow jersey): 1. Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Vino-Astana Motors 9:47:56s, 2. Thurakit Boonratanathanakorn (Tha) Thailand Continental Cycling Team +9s, 3. Max Walscheid (Ger) NTT Pro Cycling +1:17s, 4. Ahmet Orken (Tur) Team Sapura Cycling +1:22s, 5. Nur Aiman Zariff (Mas) Team Sapura Cycling, same time.

Asian classification (white jersey): 1. Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Vino-Astana Motors 9:47:56s, 2. Thurakit Boonratanathanakorn (Tha) Thailand Continental Cycling Team +9s, 3. Nur Aiman Zariff (Mas) Team Sapura Cycling +1:22s.

Points classification (Petronas green jersey): 1. Max Walscheid (Ger) NTT Pro Cycling 34pts, 2. Yevgeniy Fedorov (Kaz) Vino-Astana Motors 21pts, 3. Ahmet Orken (Tur) Team Sapura Cycling 21pts.

Climbers classification (red jersey): 1. Nur Aiman Zariff (Mas) Team Sapura Cycling 16pts, 2. Rylee Field (Team Bridgelane) 10pts, 3. Drew Morey (Aus) Terengganu Cycling Team 6pts.

New Straits Times, 10 February 2020

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