REMBAU : Tipped as the hot favourites for the bunch sprint finishes this year, Italy’s Jakub Mareczko of Wilier Triestina became the first rider to win two stages at this year’s Le Tour de Langkawi as claimed stage 6 to Rembau after he opened his season’s account in Pantai Remis on day 3.
He’s unbeaten in Rembau where he took his first ever Malaysian success one year ago and therefore announced himself for filling the shoes of Andrea Guardini who holds the record of stage victories with 22. Also a diminutive sprinter, Mareczko moved into the lead of the points competition while Ryan Gibbons, fifth on the line, retained the yellow jersey.
“I put my team at the front in the final kilometers with [Filippo] Pozzato, [Alberto] Cecchin and [Rafael] Andriato to lead me out”, Mareczko explained. “There was a curve with 400 metres to go.
Cecchin took it in first position. After Andriato’s last pull, I opened my sprint. It feels very good to get a second stage win. I’m very happy today. After winning a stage, my goal this year was to get the points jersey. Now I have it and I hope to defend it tomorrow by trying to get another first place. I’m hoping for a sunny day to conclude Le Tour de Langkawi after the pouring rain we’ve had today.”
“My priority was to retain the yellow jersey”, echoed Gibbons. “It was nice to have the teal as well but Mareczko is a top quality rider. He’s fast! I’m not too disappointed. I’m happy for him but I hope I’ll get it back tomorrow. I was feeling very good today, also under the rain. I was cautious on the wet. It was easy to go down. Just stay upright and out of trouble, that was my concern. Tomorrow’s stage is short.
It’s going to be very aggressive. But we’re ready for it. I’m so thankful for the help I got from my team-mates. There’s one more day. I’m strongly hoping that I’ll be in yellow in Putrajaya as well.”
Veteran WorldTour rider Greg Henderson of Unitedhealthcare was awarded the combativity prize of the day after being the driving force behind the main breakaway of the day with Jacopo Mosca (Wilier Triestina), Huang En (Keyi Look), Dominic Perez (7/11) and escape artist Loh Sea Keong (Thailand Continental Team).
The conclusive stage of the 22nd Le Tour de Langkawi will be 121km long from Setiawangsa (Kuala Lumpur) to Putrajaya.
Organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Malaysia and managed by Ciclista Sports Sdn Bhd, the 22nd edition of Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) from 22 February to 1 March, 2017 is set to cover more than 1,200km over 8 stages, the UCI 2.HC (hors category) race featuring again as one of the biggest events on the UCI Asia Tour calendar.