OKBET CYCLING | Erlend Blikra wins the sixth stage in a sprint finish at the Tour de Langkawi
Stage 6 of the Petronas Tour de Langkawi was held at Alor Setar, where Erlend Blikra (Uno-X Pro Cycling) won his first professional race by sprinting to the finish line first.
the winner of the first stage In the 120.4-kilometer stage that began in George Town on the island of Penang, Gleb Syritsa (Astana-Qazaqstan) came in second, while Rüdiger Selig (Lotto Soudal) got third.
Before the riders had even returned to Peninsular Malaysia via the Penang Bridge, the early breakaway was caught. With 9 kilometers to go, the sprinters’ teams began to get organized for the long straight run into the finish line, where Blikra converted his second-place finish in stage 1 into the victory he had been seeking.
Blikra remarked in a post-race interview, “I’ve been trying every day now, and to finally achieve it feels wonderful.” As the saying goes, “Today we rejoice and we are simply incredibly joyful.
Ivan Sosa (Movistar) is now wearing the leader’s yellow jersey as the race continues to Langkawi for the last two stages. After dominating the challenging peaks of the Genting Highlands, the Colombian took the lead in the overall standings. Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) is 23 seconds behind him, making him his closest competitor.
the sequence of events
Early monsoon weather made its presence known as the race made its way to the George Town start line from the Penang bridge, with rain pouring and pools of water forming on the road.
As they departed the starting line and the British colonial architecture that recalled the area’s history as a Strait of Malacca commercial centre, the noise persisted. The competition shifted into high gear, heading back toward the bridge from inside the cityscape of the island’s urban core. On Sunday, the break was fast to go, and the field was content to let them ride away, unlike on stage 5 to Kulim. As they passed between the pillars at the 13.5-kilometer mark of the Penang bridge, the first intermediate sprint, they had a lead of almost 2:30.
The six-man breakaway was led in the sprint by Thanakhan Chaiyasombat of the Thailand Continental Team. Kee Zhe Yie of Malaysia, Tiano Da Silva of Pro Touch, Willem Smit of China Glory, Marco Lumanog, and Junreck Carcueva all finished in the top five (Philippines).
By the time they reached the next sprint point at 25.5km, Carcueva had cut the lead to less than two minutes as they rode down the broad, wet roads via the villages of the northwestern state of Kedah. The Astana Qazaqstan team, led by stage 2 sprint winner Gleb Syritsa, seemed eager to close the deficit and was actively striving to do so.
The break was reduced to five members when Chaiyasombat broke down due to mechanical issues. The rain continued to pour softly, drowning many of the young rice plants.
The 19-year-old Malaysian from the state of Terengganu finished first at the third and final intermediate sprint at 63.9km, with a time deficit to the peloton of 1:20. Several teams were following at the front, with Alpecin-Deceuninck becoming more and more prominent as the race neared the finish line.
As Lotto Soudal also began to join the front-line laborers, the distance between the two teams started to narrow. With 9 kilometers to go, the gap was down to only Smit on his own after being just 35 seconds with 18 kilometers to go. After the fast men failed to take advantage of a breakaway chance during Stage 5, the sprinters’ teams were keen to make it a group at the finish.
Riders had a lengthy run towards the finish line before turning in front of the Zahir mosque, with the only real turn coming at the very beginning of the last 3 kilometers. In the last two kilometers, the sprint trains of Alpecin-Deceuninck and Lotto Soudal were in control, but Blikra worked his way into the first row and pressed the pace to reach the front with around 150 meters to go. Blikra fought off a determined Syritsa, swapping the positions of the stage 1’s top two finishers.
With this win, the Norwegian, who is still unsigned for 2019, took over the green sprinters’ jersey. In the absence of any mountain classification points, Nur Aiman Zariff (Terengganu Polygon) kept his red jersey, while Jambaljamts Sainbayar (also on Terengganu Polygon) kept his best Asian rider jersey.
Stage 7, taking place on Monday, is the race’s last day and has the potential to produce a rearrangement on the overall as the grueling 90.8-kilometer stage concludes atop Gunung Raya. Only Carthy, at a mere 23 seconds behind, is inside two minutes of current overall leader Sosa, but the competition for third place is much tighter. Five riders are separated by less than 30 seconds from third-placed Einer Rubio Reyes (Movistar) at 2:02.
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