Le Tua’s Anuar Manan celebrates winning Stage Two of Jelajah Malaysia from Seremban to Malacca yesterday. Second was Russian Sergey Kudentsov (left) with Japan’s Kohei Uchima third. — Picture by HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIM
IT came down to a bunch sprint at the end of Stage Two of Jelajah Malaysia yesterday and there was simply no stopping Le Tua’s Anuar Manan from grabbing his first stage win of the year and strengthening his grip on the lead in the points classification.
The flat 139.5-kilometre stage from Seremban to Malacca showcased a wide range of attacks right from the start but the Le Tua team and the Trek-Marco Polo team of overall leader Li Fuyu complemented each other in keeping all of it in check, bringing it down to a sprint to the wire in which the China team had led out Russian sprinter Sergey Kudentsov, the only one who is likely to offer any challenge to Anuar’s onslaught.But in their first showdown of the year, Kudentsov was well beaten as right from the 300-metre mark to the finish as the lead-out offered by Le Tua’s train had prepared 21-year-old Anuar for the tight right-turn into a narrow road that led to the finish. Kudentsov settled for second, with Japan’s Kohei Uchima coming in third. Two other Malaysians, Harrif Salleh of the MCF Continental team and national rider Zamri Salleh, his elder brother, finished fourth and fifth respectively.”The team worked hard today (yesterday), especially in the last 30km as we had to take control of the race to ensure that it was a bunch sprint,” said Anuar.”There was a breakaway then of about 10 riders but when we managed to catch them, there was one Japanese rider (Makoto Ijima) trying to go at it alone. The gap was less than a minute, so we decided to let him hang and bring him in closer to the finish.
“About three kilometres from the finish, the bunch was moving very fast and suddenly I found myself a bit to the back, so I called for my teammates to bring me back to the front and they did that very quickly.”With 300m to go, after the sharp right turn, I had a clear view and was already able to start my sprint. I went for it from there.”It was clear that Anuar had teammate Sayuti Zahit to work for him in the intermediate sprints earlier in the stage and despite the MCF
team sending out Jasmin Ruslan on a solo break to grab full points in the first intermediate sprint at Pedas, 23.9km into the stage, Anuar grabbed second with Sayuti taking fourth and the second intermediate at Teluk Gong (70.2km) saw Sayuti lead out Anuar to take full points.That gave Le Tua the top two positions in the points classification with Anuar leading on 15 points, and Sayuti second on eight.Le Tua had some assistance mid-race yesterday as the Trek-Marco Polo team flexed their muscles, controlling much of the last third of the stage to protect the red overall leader’s jersey on the back of China’s Li Fuyu.”It was a hard stage, but I have a strong team. Everybody in the squad showed we are strong today (yesterday). Our plan was to keep the bunch together so that we have a bunch sprint and we managed to achieve that, but in the bunch sprint it didn’t work out for our sprinter (Kudentsov).”Tomorrow’s stage will be the same tactics and we’ll try again,” said Fuyu, who holds a slender four-second lead over Swiss rider Marcel Strauss of the Steg Computer-CKT team in the general classification.The peloton heads into another flat stage over 163.8km from Bandar Hilir to Batu Pahat today, a stage set for another Anuar-Kudentsov showdown that is already beginning to excite the Jelajah Malaysia entourage.Some slight undulations in the middle part of the stage offer an opportunity for some attacks, but it is likely to be kept together for a bunch sprint as more than three teams have something to gain from the planned script.Results — 2nd Stage (139.5km from Seremban to Malacca): 1 Anuar Manan (Mas) LeTua 3:07.55s, 2 Sergey Kudentsov (Rus) Trek-Marco Polo, 3 Kohei Uchima (Jpn).General classification: 1 Li Fuyu (Chn) Trek-Marco Polo 7:20.04s, 2 Marcel Strauss (Swi) Steg Computer-CKT 7:20.08s, 3 Jacob Nielsen (Den) Farso 7:20.10s.Points classification: 1 Anuar Manan (Mas) LeTua 15 points, 2 Sayuti Zahit (Mas) LeTua 8, 3 Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi (Mas) 5.Mountains classification: 1 Hossein Askari (Irn) Tabriz Petrochemical 8 points, 2 Paul Griffin (Irl) Giant Asia 5, 3 Tonton Susanto (Ina) LeTua 3.Malaysian riders: 1 Amir Mustafa Rusli (Mas) MCF 7:21.21s, 2 Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi (Mas) 7:21.24s, 3 Rauf Nor Misbah (Mas) 7:23.16s.Team classification: 1 Steg Computer-CKT (Swi) 22:03.59s, 2 Tabriz Petrochemical (Irn) 22:05.06s, 3 Le Tua Cycling Team (Mas) 22:06.13s.