It was a small group sprint that decided stage 2 of the Tour de Langkawi and Travis McCabe (United Healthcare) came out on top. Fillipo Pozzato (Willier) was 2nd and our young South African sprinter, Ryan Gibbons placed 3rd. Gibbons also moved into the overall race lead thanks to the time bonuses won yesterday and today.
Stage 2 of the Tour de Langkawi was the longest stage of the race at 208km and with 2 big categorised climbs in the middle portion of the stage, all was set for a tough day. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were looking to capitalise on the slightly harder day of racing, hoping to eliminate some of the riders who were in contention for the overall GC.
Eventually a 16 rider group was able to get close on a 3-minute advantage over the peloton, our African Team had both Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Adrien Niyonshuti in the escape group. When the break reached the 30km climb that came halfway through the stage, Niyonshuti attacked with one other rider. Behind, the peloton started to fall apart on the climb as our African Team started to drive the pace.
As both the peloton and the gap to breakaway riders got smaller, Janse van Rensburg and Niyonshuti dropped back to the main group to help with the pacing efforts. Over the top of the climb, all 6 Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders were present in the peloton which now consisted of only 40-odd riders. There was one smaller climb still to go which topped out with 30km to go, and our African Team used the positive gradient to claw back the remaining breakaway riders.
On the descent toward the finish though, Gibbons, our protected rider for the stage had to stop for a bike change. He was able to return calmly enough to contest for the stage win. In the sprint for the line, it was an extremely tight finish but McCabe crossed first ahead of Pozzato with Gibbons taking 3rd. Thanks to his 2nd place yesterday, Gibbons moved into the overall leader’s yellow jersey and the teal points jersey.
Ryan Gibbons – Rider
Our team was amazing today and the guys rode incredibly well all day. I had some problems with my bike on the 2nd climb though, so I had to change to the spare which only had a 53 chain ring on and I couldn’t get into the 11 tooth sprocket either. In the downhill sprint I had the perfect wheel, coming off Travis’ wheel, when I jumped to come around I just didn’t have a big enough gear to get the speed up. The other sprinters are really strong so I take nothing away from them, but I genuinely feel I am quicker. I know I just need to prove it and I look forward to doing so in the coming days. I am still happy to be in the yellow and sprinters jersey too.