Theo Bos (Belkin) went on to win stage 2 of the Le Tour de Langkawi ahead of his teammate Graeme Brown in a crashed marred finish. Marco Haller (Katusha) was 3rd while Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung had its Algerian fast man, Youcef Reguigui, finish in 7th position.
The day’s proceedings started with the customary early attacks going right from the gun. Eventually the race settled as 6 riders managed to get clear of the peloton inside the first 10km. This lead group would later be whittled down to a group of just 4 riders, who then spent the majority of the day leading the race.
After the sprinters teams missed the chance for a stage win yesterday, they were not going to make the same mistake today. As soon as the escapees reached a 5 minute lead, Team Astana and Belkin took over at the front of the peloton in order to reel in the breakaway.
With 7km to go, the break was caught and teams started preparing for the sprint. In a chaotic final 5km’s, with a number of twists, turns and road furniture the fighting for position at the front of the race was intense. With a kilometre to go a Yellow-Fluo rider accidently touched the wheel of the rider in front of him, resulting in a mass pile up. Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung riders Merhawi Kudus and Jacques Janse Van Rensburg both went down in the crash but were able to walk away with only a few minor scrapes and bruises.
The crash caused a big split in the peloton leaving only a handful of riders to contest the final kilometre together. In some crazy scenes, the already reduced leading group saw another 2 crashes take out 3 more riders before the sprint opened up proper with 200m to go.
Speaking after the stage, Directeur Sportif Kevin Campbell was happy to get through the stage largely unscathed. “I am satisfied with Youcef’s top 10 today, importantly though, all the riders on our team are okay as our focal stage is still to come. Jacques and Merhawi were both involved in the pile up but more just caught up in other riders’ misfortune.”
After dodging 3 separate crashes in final kilometres, Reguigui was satisfied with his result. “I am happy to get a top 10 today. The final kilometres were very hectic though. I do believe that I have a better result in me this week than my 7th place today,” said Reguigui.
Tomorrow’s stage 3 again looks like it should be another race for the sprinters but there is a category 4 climb positioned just 12 kilometers from the finish line. This could prove to be a launch pad for a late escape and so an exciting finish can be expected.
Le Tour de Langkawi (Malaysia) – (February 27 – March 8/UCI 2.HC)
Louis Meintjes (RSA)
Tsgabu Grmay (ETH)
Merhawi Kudus (ERI)
Jacques Janse van Rensburg (RSA)
John-Lee Augustyn (RSA)
Youcef Reguigui (ALG)
Staff: Kevin Campbell (Sports Director), Dr Jarrad van Zuydam (Doctor), Hagen Bernutz (Soigneur), Yvonne Houwelling (Soigneur) and Heiko Heinrici (Mechanic)