Cycling / Jelajah Malaysia: Crunch time for Le Tua aces
TONTON Susanto, Anuar Manan and their high riding Le Tua team will face their stiffest test today — from Iranian Hossein Askari’s Tabriz Petrochemical team.
“We ride for everything tomorrow (today), the polka dot jersey, the overall individual and team titles, as well as the stage win.
“This is our team’s plan and we will go for it all. We have the polka dot jersey, but we also have a chance to go for the overall through (Ghader) Mizbani,” said a confident Askari.
The points classification race is the only open battle that Tabriz are not in the running, with Anuar holding a firm grip on it after three stage wins.
Askari believes they can pull off a sweep in the penultimate stage today which ends half-way up Genting Highlands in Gohtong Jaya.
“Tomorrow is an important day for our team. It will be the best day of the race and we have planned well for this. We are ready for everything and we know there are other strong teams as well, especially Le Tua, but we will be focused on those targets,” said Askari, who is five minutes and 31 seconds behind Tonton in the general classification.
Hopes of a Malaysian bagging the overall title depend on seasoned Kuala Lumpur all-rounder Suhardi Hassan, who starts today at fourth in the general classification, just two minutes and five seconds behind Tonton. But the bigger threat will be from pre-event favourite Mizbani, who is just four seconds adrift and the red jersey seems his for the taking unless Tonton has other ideas.
Suhardi’s Kuala Lumpur team are packed with all-rounders like the hard-working Ahmad Fallanie Ali, Harnizam Basri and Wan Mohd Najmee Wan Mohamed. But whether they can bring the leading Malaysian rider into a threatening position will largely depend on the tactics by team manager Suhaimi Keton.
The battle of the day is still expected to be between Tonton and the band of Iranians, with probable spoilers in the likes of Skil Shimano’s veteran rider Yoshiyuki Abe, teammate Yokihiro Doi or Giant Asia’s Paul Griffin, who also has a shot at the king of the mountains jersey.