Youcef Reguigui put in a great ride today at the 3rd Tour de Langkawi stage, sprinting to 2nd place just behind Caleb Ewan (Orica-Greenedge). Leonardo Duque (Colombia) claimed 3rd position at the line.
It was a fantastic team performance all round by Team MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung today as what was expected to be another mass sprint stage, turned into a race defining stage. In the early part of today’s racing 5 riders went clear of the peloton and Natnael Berhane was representing MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung in the move. The escapees built up a lead of 3 minutes by the time the peloton hit the cat 1 climb situated at the 67km mark.
It was on this cat 1 climb that some fireworks began back in the peloton with our African team right at the helm of the action. Over the top of the climb, a select group of 45 riders had formed leaving the peloton and yellow jersey in its wake. With a slight gap and a couple of teams having 3 or 4 riders in the selection, they pushed on in the hope of distancing the peloton.
Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Merhawi Kudus, Daniel Teklehaimanot and Youcef Reguigui all the made the select group and with Natnael up the road our African team helped to drive the big chase group. Natnael’s group was inevitably caught as the gap to the peloton opened up dramatically to more than 10 minutes with only 40km’s to race.
After realising the winner would come from the break, MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung turned to support Youcef for the finale as they have over the last 2 stages. In a fast and nail-biting finish, our Algerian was just pipped to the line by less than wheels length to Ewan. Merhawi also snuck into the top 10, securing 9th place. Natnael now moves into 2nd on GC after the bonus seconds he won in the break and Youcef is up to 3rd overall.
Youcef Reguigui – Rider
Stage 3 was really hard because it started with a climb and the team did a great job on it. Jacques started attacking from the beginning and Natnael got into the break in the end. After the big climb the team and myself controlled the race. In the final 10km’s I was on Daniels wheel and Natnael was also there in for me in the final kilometer. I started my sprint alongside the winner from Greenedge and I came so close to the victory. Thank you to all my teammates for such a great job today.
Jacques Janse van Rensburg – Rider
It was a great team performance today. Youcef really has a great opportunity to win here. Natnael was in the break and he got 9 seconds in the different sprints up the road. We all felt really good today on the climbs so we are looking forward to stage 7.
Michel Cornelisse – Sport Director
Today the boys were really very good. Jacques was in all the first attacks of the day. Then when the group went we had Natnael present, he was able to take most of the primes along the stage today which was very good. On the cat 1 climb the pace went up and our boys were very attentive and active. At one stage we had 5 riders as part of the leading group and this is really important for the team classification. It can also play a role ahead of Saturday’s important stage as well. Youcef was able to end off a great day for us by taking 2nd in the stage in a very close sprint. I am really happy with our performance.