The 5th stage of the Tour de Langkawi ended in another mass sprint and it was a familiar result with Andrea Guardini (Astana) taking the victory yet again, Andrea Palini (Skydive Dubai) was 2nd and Reinardt Janse van Rensburg 3rd.
It was a fast start to the 148km stage, with almost 50km covered in the first hour of racing. The high speed was largely thanks to Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka putting pressure on the peloton, as our African Team raced for the bonus seconds at the 2 intermediate sprints that came in the opening 60km.
At the first intermediate sprint Janse van Rensburg won back 2 seconds in the GC race by placing 2nd behind Guardini. By the time the 2nd sprint came the race was becoming harder to control with many other teams getting in on the act as well. A small split went off the front just before the sprint was reached, and those lead riders took all the bonus seconds. It was straight after this sprint prime that a group of 6 riders were then allowed to break away.
The finish was not all that far away after the 2nd sprint and so the 6 escapees were held on a short leash by the sprinters teams. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka, Drapac and Tinkoff all did a lot of work on the front of the peloton. Adrien Niyonshuti was particularly strong in this regard, spending a lot of time on the front of the peloton.
Despite a few new late attacks, the expected bunch sprint would materialise as all breakaway riders were caught with 2km to go. With great support from his team, Janse van Rensburg was kept in a good position for the sprint and the ever dependable Jaco Venter was with Janse van Rensburg until the final kilometer.
In the sprint, Guardini showed once again he is the fastest and Janse van Rensburg was only just pipped by Palini for 2nd. 3rd place at the line gave Janse van Rensburg another 4 bonus seconds and so our South African rider now sits 2nd on GC, 23 seconds behind Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana).
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg – Rider
The mission is to get back time on Lopez now. The team controlled the breaks for me to pick up time bonuses at the intermediate sprints At the 1st intermediate I got 2 seconds. I had a badly timed puncture just before the 2nd intermediate sprint. We committed to bringing back a late attack from One Pro Cycling before the guys brought me to a good position for the final sprint, where I got 3rd. Guardini is one of the best for these kind of finishes, but I think tomorrow might suit me better.
Jens Zemke – Sport Director
It was another fast and hot day, temperatures reached 40 degrees. The time gap for the GC got a bit smaller today, Lopez only has 23 seconds now. Reinardt finished once again on the podium, in 3rd place and very close to winner. The team did a fantastic job, after the final climb when the 5 riders were still away our boys did a great job to help close the gap. I am really proud of how the boys are racing here, showing good teamwork and still 3 more tough stages are to come.