Indonesian Tonton Susanto of Le Tua celebrates winning Stage Seven and the Jelajah Malaysia overall title yesterday. — Pic: HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIM.
TONTON Susanto cruised to the finish line in a neutralised final stage of the Jelajah Malaysia yesterday to celebrate his well-deserved first ever overall title in an international stage race.
The race also showcased the potential power of continental team Le Tua, who completed the most memorable showing by a Malaysian team by also bagging the points classification through Anuar Manan.It was a victory the Indonesian veteran described as his best ever and came at a time when he was already counting his days as a professional cyclist, as he is set to celebrate his 35th birthday in September.”This was one victory I am really thankful for. I’ll be 35 this year and if I hadn’t done it now I don’t think there would be many more such opportunities,” said Tonton who seized the red jersey from Trek-Marco Polo’s Li Fuyu after being part of a successful breakaway in the fourth stage from Batu Pahat to Muar on Thursday.Le Tua had controlled the race from Stage One with an eye on the intermediate sprint. With those tactics being played in the opening three stages, the decisive move was made in Stage Four when Tonton sneaked into an 11-man breakaway that finished seven minutes ahead of the bunch to claim the red jersey with only one serious challenger, Tabriz Petrochemical’s Ghader Mizbani
, who was four seconds adrift.
In what was to be the decisive stage, Stage Six up Genting Highlands on Saturday, Ghader failed to dislodge a determined Tonton who was stuck on his wheel throughout the climb.The advantage extended with time bonuses Tonton gained from the categorised climbs and a third place finish behind Tabriz’s mountains classification winner Hossein Askari and Giant Asia’s David McCann, Indonesia’s most famous cyclist was guaranteed a ticket to the promised land.”We had good tactics and the teamwork was excellent. I want to remain with this team for some time,” added Tonton, who leads the team again in Le Tour de Langkawi next month.Yesterday’s Kuala Lumpur Criterium was neutralised due to heavy rain, thus the intermediate sprint points were excluded from classification, leaving just the stage win to be contested.That sealed Le Tua’s second jersey, the blue one worn by top sprinter Anuar from the opening stage on Monday, till the end. Anuar also registered three stylish stage victories to equal Indonesian Samai Amari’s record in Jelajah Malaysia.”Our team this time was stronger, much stronger than we were last year and we were right on top of everything from start to finish,” said Anuar, 22.”Our team worked hard every single day and nobody can deny that. When it came to the point where we were under pressure, to protect not one but two jerseys, we did not crack under pressure. Instead we planned our tactics and stuck to it. Everything just fell into place.”Le Tua also finished on top of the Malaysian teams classification and were third in the overall teams classification out of 21 competing teams, behind Tabriz Petrochemical and Japan.Kuala Lumpur’s Suhardi Hassan ended the race by completing his second successive sweep of the white leading Malaysian rider’s jersey in the race, ahead of national team rider Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi and Trek-Marco Polo’s Loh Sea Keong