Alor Setar—Harrif Saleh of Terengganu Cycling Team entered the history books, becoming the first Asian to win three stages and the first Malaysian to grab two wins in a single edition of the 25th Petronas Le Tour de Langkawi yesterday.
Saleh completed the 130.4-kilometer race from Bagan to Alor Setar with a time of two hours, 53 minutes and 18 seconds, edging last year's Alor Setar stage champ Matteo Pelucchi (Bardiani CSF Faizane) and this year's second stage king Taj Jones.
The 31-year-old rider already won the fifth leg from Kuala Kubu Bharu to Ipoh on Tuesday before adding the seventh stage to his name.
"I am ready for this year's Langkawi (LTdL), I just followed my way that's why I won," said Saleh, who also shared how he was able to close the gap with Pelucchi and out-sprinted the chasing group.
"Today, I see that they are moving fast, but I see the road open for me. I gave my maximum effort for the sprint, then I moved past Pelucchi to win," he added.
Reigning individual general classification leader Danilo Celano of Team Sapura Cycling managed to stay within the bunch and fend off attempts from Asian leader Yevgeniy Fedorov of Vino-Astana Motors.
Team Sapura is looking to protect its Italian star in the coming eighth stage to preserve his yellow jersey.
Max Walscheid's best sprinter crown is in danger, though, with Jones breathing down his neck after recording a total of 45 points for the sprint, with Saleh lurking at the back with 42 points.
Nur Aiman Zariff's red jersey stayed untouched due to the lack of categorized climbing on the seventh stage.
Expect an all-out battle for the jerseys as the Le Tour de Langkawi resumes with its final leg today, a 108.5-km race from Dataran Lang to Kuah, Langkawi.
Manila Standard, 13 February 2020