All the top riders are here in Terengganu and are raring to go as the inaugural Tour of Peninsular (ToP) is set to flag off for the first stage which starts in Dungun today.
There is no shortage of talent in the general classification (GC) with riders such as Kinan Cycling Team’s Thomas Lebas, Taiyuan Miogee Cycling Team’s Jeroen Meijers and Team Sapura Cycling’s Christian Raileanu all in top form at the moment.
With stages one and two set to finish in Kuala Terengganu and Chukai, the crowd favourites will no doubt be Terengganu Inc (TSG) duo Artem Ovechkin, who is also expected to be a contender in the GC, and sprinter Harrif Saleh.
“For me, the minimum is to finish among the top three or better but then there are also quite a few good riders here who have managed good results recently,” said Ovechkin, at pre-tour press conference here today.
“ToP is of course a very important race for us as it is the second race in Malaysia (after LTdL). Of course the fourth stage will be very important for me (in GC) but we also have some good stages for our sprinters.” continued Ovechkin who won Le Tour de Langkawi last year.
Harrif Saleh is equally eager to stamp his mark on the tour but stressed that anything can happen, especially in the opening stage.
“ToP is a great platform for Malaysian riders to show their talent and competing in Terengganu definitely gives me added motivation to do well,” said Harrif.
Stage one today will cover a total distance of 180.6km starting from Dungun to Kuala Terengganu. The stage’s relatively flat profile should see it ending in a bunch sprint.
The fourth stage, which starts in Sungai Koyan and finishes high up in Tanah Rata, Cameron Highlands 89.5km, will be the queen stage of the tour.