The 6th stage of the Tour de Langkawi ended in another bunch sprint which Jakub Mareczko (Southeast) won ahead of Juraj Sagan (Tinkoff) and Dylan Page (Team Roth). Reinardt Janse van Rensburg took over the overall race lead as Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) lost time after a late puncture.
While all the drama of today’s Tour de Langkawi stage happened in the final 500m, there was some early action with an initial break of 7 riders going clear in the opening kilometers of the stage and we had Songezo Jim in the move. United Healthcare were on a mission though and after 80km of racing they caught the break. There was then a new escape of 6 riders that formed, and we had Adrien Niyonshuti in the mix this time. They would ride into a 1’30” lead before Tanner Putt (United Healthcare) attacked from the front, with 45km to go.
Putt was able to extend his lead over the peloton by a further 30 seconds as the remnants of the break all returned to the peloton. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had a plan for the final 16km though and the entire team came to the front just before the final cat 3 climb of the day. Our African Team put in a huge acceleration on the positive slope, hoping to split the peloton. Putt was caught on the climb but unfortunately the climb was not hard enough to cause any splits in the race.
As the peloton descended toward the line, the race leader Lopez punctured with around 7km to go. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were preparing Janse van Rensburg for the sprint at the head of the race and then Drapac hit the front with 2km to go. An off camber 180-degree bend came with 500m to go, riders dived into the corner at high speed and some went down. Janse van Rensburg was hit from the side by another rider, fortunately our South African did not fall but he was unable to take part in the sprint as his chain had dropped.
Among the chaos of the final corner, Lopez was still trying to get back to the peloton but unfortunately for the Astana rider he would cross the line 35 seconds after the front group. This meant that Janse van Rensburg would move up into the overall race lead. Daniel Jaramillo (United Healthcare) is now 2nd, 11 seconds back and Lopez is 3rd, 12 seconds behind.
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg – Rider
I am really sorry for Lopez to lose the jersey in such a way. I was in a good position for the sprint before a guy took me out in the corner at 500m to go, and I had to stop to put my chain back on. I have yellow now but it feels very bittersweet, taking the jersey in such a way and also losing my chance to go for the stage win. Songezo Jim and Adrien Niyonshuti did great to sit in the breaks today and put pressure on the other teams to chase. The rest of the team did a great job to get me in a good position for the sprint, unfortunately I missed my chance to sprint but gained the GC lead. Now we will need to defend the jersey for the final two days.
Jens Zemke – Sport Director
Many times in the past the misfortune was on our shoulders, today it was on the shoulders of Astana. Their leader punctured with 7km to go and our boys were already preparing the sprint for Reinardt. We were focused on ourselves and wanted to win the stage with Reinardt. In the last corner at 500m to go Andrea Palini rode into Reinardt, he nearly crashed and his chain fell off. He had to stop but finally he received the same time as the front group and Lopez was in the 2nd group, he did not make it back to the leaders and that is the reason why we are in the leader’s jersey.