Cycling/Jelajah Malaysia: Le Tua grab double, Tonton on title track
AN extraordinary Stage Four of the Jelajah Malaysia yesterday ended with Malaysia’s top stage race team Le Tua grabbing two leaders’ jerseys as Tonton Susanto placed himself to within striking distance of an overall victory.
The 178.8-kilometre stage run under a scorching sun from Batu Pahat to Muar, saw Swedish Differdange-Apiflo rider Frederick Johansson steal victory after leaving his nine other breakaway partners behind with a surge in the final five kilometres.
The escapees had gone through 160km on their own and ended with a six-minute and 37-second gap between themselves and the main bunch.
“The breakaway went early and kept going faster and faster, and went for over 160km. It was a really hot day and I was suffering a lot,” said Johansson.
“In the first 100km, I was fine, but after that it got worse, so I decided to try and just hang on, sit at the back of the group and try to recover. But in the final five kilometres I felt I had a good chance and tried to go alone. I was lucky to get away at that point with nobody following.”
That early breakaway also brought big changes in the general classification (GC) with previous leader Li Fuyu of the Trek-Marco Polo team now down to eighth, over five minutes behind Tonton, who parked himself into a position that offers a mouth-watering battle with Iranian Tabriz Petrochemical rider Ghader Mizbani, the pre-event favourite, when the race hits its mountain stage from Kuala Kubu Baru to Genting Highlands tomorrow.
Ghader, who was also in the breakaway and finished seventh is now second in GC, just four seconds behind Tonton.
The Le Tua team now have a double capture of the overall leader’s red jersey on Tonton’s shoulders and still maintained the blue jersey for the points classification lead with top sprinter Anuar Manan.
Anuar’s points classification lead on 19 points also came under threat with Kuala Lumpur’s Suhardi Hassan taking all three intermediate sprints on offer yesterday to collect 15 points, setting up a clash for that jersey.
Suhardi wrested the white jersey for the leading Malaysian rider and now holds a four minutes and 33 seconds lead over MCF’s Amir Mustafa Rusli, a gap that is unlikely to be closed.
The fifth stage from Gemas to Karak today covers 133.7km, with another three intermediate sprints on offer, with an additional categorised climb at the 106.2km point in Mancis.