Cycling/Jelajah Malaysia: Fuyu draws first blood

NST Online>8/1/2008

   

       Li Fuyu won the tricky and undulating Stage One of the Jelajah Malaysia eysterday with a late burst. — Pic: OWEE AH CHUN
Li Fuyu won the tricky and undulating Stage One of the Jelajah Malaysia eysterday with a late burst. — Pic: OWEE AH CHUN

HOLES were punched into a peloton that was highly active, but of all the moves, it was Trek-Marco Polo’s Li Fuyu’s dash to ditch a six-man breakaway in the final three kilometres that mattered most as he won Stage One of Jelajah Malaysia from Putrajaya to Port Dickson yesterday.

The win on the tricky and undulating 176.7-kilometre route was China rider Fuyu’s first since returning to the Trek-Marco Polo team after spending a season with American Pro Tour team Discovery Channel. The 29-year-old will also be remembered as the first stage winner in the UCI Asia Tour this year.

Mild temperatures and cloudy skies from start to finish yesterday provided the right setting for a frantic pace dotted with attacks right from the start. Fuyu will thank Malaysian national team rider Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi for initiating what proved to be the decisive attack at the foot of the Ulu Bendul climb, 68km into the stage.

Prior to that the race was under the Le Tua team’s control as they paced sprinters Anuar Manan and Sayuti Zahit to capture the first two intermediate sprints which gave Anuar the points classification lead that he wanted.

Fauzan’s attack was initially joined by 12 other riders, including contenders Fuyu and Tabriz Petrochemical’s Hossein Askari, who captured the polka dot (king of the mountains) jersey by amassing eight points over four categorised climbs before the finish.

That group withered down to six riders in the last 15km after the remainder of the initial group were dropped and caught by a new attack from within the main peloton, and Fuyu seemed the one most eager to take the win.

“I tried to drop the other five riders with 15 kilometres to go, but they just wouldn’t let me. Then, as we made the approach to the finish, I decided to go early and with 50 metres to go, I saw that I had a good advantage over the rest and just maintained my pace,” said Fuyu, who out-sprinted Swiss Marcel Strauss of the Steg Computer-CKT team and Jacob Nielsen of Team Farso to take victory.

The question now is whether or not Fuyu’s Trek-Marco Polo team with just one of the teammates from his double capture of the Tour of Thailand and Tour of Siam in 2006, Malaysian Loh Sea Keong, still riding with him, is strong enough to keep the red leader’s jersey until Sunday.

“I really don’t know. But I like a fast race and the pace today (yesterday) was very fast so it suited me. I also don’t know anything about what the other teams might be planning so I will just go with my plan. I hope the pace remains like this until the end,” said Fuyu.

For all his troubles, Fauzan was unlucky to be among those dropped by the leading six with 15km to go. He however came in 15th, a minute and 13 seconds behind the winner to take the leading Malaysian rider’s jersey.

A different plot to the story is expected in the 139.5km Stage Two from Seremban to Malacca today, a fairly flat route likely to contribute to the Jelajah Malaysia’s first bunch sprint finish where a mouth-watering clash between Anuar and Trek-Marco Polo’s Russian rider Sergey Kudentsov will most probably light things up.

Results – Top 10 in Stage One (179.7km from Putrajaya to Port Dickson): 1 Li Fuyu (Chn) Trek-Marco Polo 4:12.19s, 2 Marcel Strauss (Swi) Steg Computer-CKT, 3 Jacob Nielsen (Den) Farso, 4 Paul Griffin (Irl) Giant Asia, 5 Hossein Askari (Iran) Tabriz Petrochemical, 6 Dimitri Jiriakov (Lie) Steg Computer-CKT – all same time, 7 Makoto Ijima (Jpn) 4:13.26s, 8 Mehdi Sohrabi (Iran) Islamic Azad University, 9 Ryan Ariehaan (Ina) Le Tua, 10 Mohamad Taufik (Ina) Benteng Muda-Selangor – all same time.

General classification: 1 Li Fuyu (Chn) Tek-Marco Polo 4:12.09s, 2 Marcel Strauss (Swi) Steg Computer-CKT 4:12.09s, 3 Jacob Nielsen (Den) Farso 4:12.15s.

Points classification: 1 Anuar Manan (Mas) Le Tua 6 points, 2 Sayuti Zahit (Mas) Le Tua 5, Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi (Mas) 5.

Mountains: 1 Hossein Askari (Irn) Tabriz Petrochemical 8 points, 2 Paul Griffin (Irl) Giant Asia 5, 3 Tonton Susanto (Ina) Le Tua 3.

Malaysian riders: 1 Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi (Mas).

~ by missjewelz on January 10, 2008.

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