Kuala Lumpur, 9 Feb 2020 – Pre-race favourite for the bunch sprints, Max Walscheid of the NTT Pro Cycling Team, finally lived up to his promise when he won a bunch sprint to bag Stage 3 of the PETRONAS Le Tour de Langkawi 2020 at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre today.
The 26-year old German, who had the perfect warm-up for the race by winning the Kota Kinabalu Criterium International on Thursday, was surprised at the finish by young Australian Taj Jones in Stager 2 in Kerteh yesterday, but made no mistake this time around.
The victory pushed Walscheid into the points classification lead on 34 points, ahead of overall leader Yevgeniy Fedorov of the Vino-Astana Motors team who is on 21 points, level with third placed Turkish sprinter Orken.
The bunch sprint meant Fedorov comfortably retained the yellow jersey with a nine seconds advantage over second placed Thurakit Bonnratanathanakorn of the Thailand Continental Cycling Team, while Walscheid is third, a minute and 17 seconds further adrift, with the rest of the main protaganists with a similar deficit as they prepare for the queen stage to the summit of Genting Highlands tomorrow.
Meintjes, who will be looking to become the fifth South African overall winner in the race after Ryan Cox, David George, Reinhardt Janse van Rensburg and Ryan Gibbons, first has to contend with making up a one minute and 18s deficit on 19-year old leader Fedorov, with the Vino-Astana Motors team also looking formidable in their defence of his lead thus far.
Nur Aiman, who took the mountains classification jersey, set high aspirations to defend it in Genting tomorrow.
“I planned to be in the breakaway to put myself into contention for the Asian riders’ classification, but at the climbs today I saw the opportunity for the red jersey so I went for it. Tomorrow, we have other climbers to challenge for the general classification and I will try to my best to defend this jersey with five climbs tomorrow,” said Nur Aiman.
Stage 4 tomorrow will likely be the decisive stage in the general classification battle, with the mythical summit of Genting Highlands coming at the end of the 156.1km stage that begins in the nation’s administrative capital of Putrajaya.
The peloton is expected to be well split up even before they arrive at the foot of Genting, with four categorised climbs spread out prior to that, with category 3 summits at Sungai Tekali after 52km, the Ampang Look Out after 64.5km, Selayang at KM98.6 and Rawang at KM108.1.