Tour de Langkawi #7: Gibbons takes yellow jersey into final stage

It was another wet sprint finish at the Tour de Langkawi for today’s 7th stage. Jakub Mareczko (Wilier) was the days victor, Travis McCabe (United Healthcare) placed 2nd with Andrea Palini (Androni) rounding out the stage podium. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had Ryan Gibbons and Mekseb Debesay place 5th and 6th respectively.

The 7th stage of the Tour de Langkawi got underway in fairly warm and pleasant conditions but soon turned into another torrential downpour of a day. Another first start saw numerous breakaway attempts but our African Team was keeping tabs on all the moves. Eventually the main break of the day went clear containing 4 riders. Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka controlled the gap at 1’30” for most of the day, as Jacopo Mosca (Wilier) was part of the leading group and an outside threat to Gibbons overall lead.

Today’s 148km stage saw a category 3 climb peaking just 8km from the finish with straight drop to the line thereafter. Jacques Janse van Rensburg, Nic Dougall and Adrien Niyonshuti were able to reel in the escapees before the summit of this final climb and then left the final to Gibbons, Debesay and Ben O’Connor.

It was a tricky finale as the descent toward the finish was done in the pouring rain and at over 100km/h in sections. Wilier was in control of the leadout with their numbers while Debesay and Gibbons were happy to follow in their wake. Mareczko would take out the stage win as Gibbons and Debesay secured 5th & 6th. Ben O’Connor also finished with the main group and ensured we still have 3 riders placed in the top 10 overall. Gibbons now takes the yellow jersey into tomorrow’s final stage with hope of completing a hatrick of overall Tour de Langkawi wins for our African Team.

Oli Cookson – Sport Director

It was another crazy day with a lot of attacking in the beginning. United Healthcare were going for the first sprint so they were riding to get their riders there first. A number of groups got away but we had to ensure we only let one go that we were content with. Eventually it was 4 guys, but Mosca was around a minute down on Ryan so we kept them close. The team was fantastic again, riding as a unit all day. Later in the stage some other sprint teams helped us in the chase which brought it down to a sprint. It was so fast and wet coming to the final, our main concern again was to stay upright and keep the yellow. There was a tricky left hand corner with 300m to go but once we were through that, all was okay.