LANGKAWI: Malaysian continental team, Team Sapura Cycling (TSC), created history by becoming the first local outfit to emerge overall champions in the 2020 Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) here today.
TSC were adjudged the best team with a combined time of 80 hours 02 minutes 45 seconds in the eight-stage race.
TSC also had the honour of producing the overall champion rider in Italian Danilo Celano, who held on to the yellow jersey he has worn since stage four in Genting Highlands on Feb 10, finishing with a total time of 26 hours 39 minutes and 58 seconds.
National rider Muhamad Nur Aiman Mohd Zariff of TSC also etched his name in the record books by becoming the first Malaysian in the 25-year history of LTdl to win the red jersey as the King of Mountain when he amassed a total of 34 points.
In today’s eighth and final stage, covering 108.5km from Dataran Lang to Kuah town, Celano and Muhamad Nur Aiman finished 43rd and 63rd out of 107 riders with times of 2 hours 29 minutes and 08 seconds and 2:29:20s respectively.
Germany’s Maximilian Richard Walscheid of NTT Pro Cycling Team won stage eight, followed by Italian Luca Pacioni of Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec team and Ara Pro Racing Sunshine Coast rider Taj Jones of Australia in second and third places respectively.
The race commissaire awarded a common time of 2 hours 29 minutes 08 seconds to the top 10 finishers who crossed the finish line in a sprint bunch.
TSC manager Ahmad Sayuti Mohd Zahit was thrilled with the success of his team, saying it was the result of intensive training held overseas.
He thanked title sponsor Sapura and the crew for working hard to help them win the honours.
The team successfully defended the yellow jersey won by their former rider Benjamin Dyball of Australia last season.
“I think our success this time is extraordinary because we won the red and yellow jerseys, apart from emerging as the best team. I’m very pleased,” he told reporters.
“We achieved our target of retaining the yellow jersey, apart from two third-place finishes. But I have to admit the competition this year was more challenging with tough routes, especially the climb zones in Penang in stage six, and the presence of six pro teams,” said Ahmad Sayuti, a former national cyclist.
Meanwhile, Celano was glad that he could win despite being troubled by flu two days ago.
He thanked his teammates for achieving the phenomenal results at the premier Asian cycling race.
“Our team made thorough preparations before taking part in this race and I’m very delighted with today’s victory,” said the 30-year-old Italian, who joined TSC from Latvian continental team Amore & Vita–Prodir early this season.
Celano thus emulated fellow Italian Paolo Lanfranchi’s feat of winning the top honours back in 2001 with Mapei-Quick-Step, who were disbanded in 2002.
Free Malaysia Today, 15 February 2020