Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s purple patch at the Tour de Langkawi continued as Ryan Gibbons sprinted to victory during today’s 5th stage. Jakub Mareczko (Willier) finished in 2nd place and Travis McCabe (United Healthcare) was 3rd.
Heading into today’s 5th stage of the Tour de Langkawi which took riders on a 151km journey from Meru Reya to Kuala Kubu Bharu, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka’s top priority was to protect Gibbons’ race leader’s yellow jersey. It was a fast start with multiple attacks in the opening 50km and eventually 1 rider was allowed to go clear, a situation that suited our African Team perfectly.
There was 3 bonus sprints out on course where just by riding defensively, Gibbons was able to extend his overall lead by 2 seconds and Mekseb Debesay also grabbed a bonus second which saw him move up 1 place on the GC. With just 1 rider up the road, our African Team was able to control the race comfortably all stage. Only right at the end did a few other sprint teams come to the fore, and caught the lone escapee with 15km to go.
It was then a frantic race to a sprint finale, one which suited Gibbons characteristics as the rough bricked surface and gentle rise to the line was tailored for a strong sprinter. After some great team work to drop Gibbons off in the right place for the sprint, the young South African kicked for the line around 200m to go and left the others behind. With just more than a bike’s length lead, Gibbons was able to throw his hands in the air to celebrate the first professional victory of his career.
After today’s efforts Gibbons now has a good lead on the overall GC with Debesay 5th overall and Ben O’Connor in 10th. Gibbons also took back the lead in the teal sprinters jersey competition.
Ryan Gibbons – Rider
I am absolutely thrilled. I am so happy I could repay my team for all their hard work and also just so happy I could get off the mark with my first professional win. Hopefully it is the start of something great. The first priority was to keep yellow today but I got a few points during the sprints out on the road which brought me the Teal jersey as well. From 10km to go, it was all systems go for a sprint and I am so happy I could pull it off. The start of the race was really busy, nobody wanted to let a break go but our guys were special, covering anything too dangerous. Eventually we could let 1 guy go and then Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Adrien Niyonshuti controlled the race all day, these guys are fantastic.