Terengganu Cycling team (TSG) fought back for Mohd Shahrul Mat Amin to win Stage Three of the Jelajah Malaysia 2012 as Yusup Abrekov of the Uzbekistan Suren team did enough to finish in the yellow at Malaysia’s hottest place, Chuping.
Following yesterday’s disappointing run where TSG failed to defend the yellow jersey held by Shinichi Fukushima from the first day of the race, the question on every one’s mind is how will the Terengganu-based team will react on the third day.
“The plan was to attack but we were not sure how the others will react. There were several attempts at the start but it did not take off,” said Mohd Shahrul, who had also won Stage One of the Jelajah Malaysia 2010.
“It was only after the two riders broke free (10km marker at Taman Mahsuri) that we knew we had a chance to spice things up. Yesterday, we worked hard to defend the yellow but it did not work out. So today we were determined to take the stage.”
The early breakaway attempts were all thwarted by the hardworking Uzbekistan Suren team as they showed their desire to protect Yusup’s position in the yellow. It was only at Taman Mahsuri that Harrif Saleh (TSG) and Nor Rizuan Zainal (Armed Forces) opened up a 20second lead over the peloton.
The two were soon caught by the chasing pack before another breakaway saw five riders going off with Harrif being joined by Hari Fitrianto (Polygon Sweet Nice), Joel Pearson (Genesys Wealth), Sergey Kuzmin (Kazakhstan) and Kazu Mori (Aisan Cycling team).
The group then became eight with Shinichi Fukushima (TSG), Volodymyr Zagorodniy (Suren) and Tonton Susanto. But the gap did not last long as they were soon gobbled up by the pack being powered by Uzbekistan Suren.
Heading into the first climb KOM 1 at Bukit Selambau, a new breakaway was formed with Thomas Robinson (Genesys Wealth), Adiq Husainie Othman (Malaysia Development), Shahrul Mat Amin (TSG) and Putra Perjuangan's Agung Ali Shahbana as they carved out a 35 second gap before building it to more than a minute.
“There was no real danger today, so we were confident that we can still protect it tomorrow,” quipped current red jersey leader Dadi Suryadi of Putra Perjuangan after the race.
Robinson and Agung dropped off for Shahrul to take KOM 1 with Adiq coming in second and from the head of the peloton a minute later, Suren's Volodymyr Starchyk took third.
Shahrul and Adiq then increased the gap to more than two minutes as they approached the first intermediate sprint at 40.4km. Adiq took the first sprint ahead of Shahrul to be followed by Kazu Mori (Aisan), Starchyk (Suren) and Zagorodniy (Suren).
Adiq also went on to take the second sprint at Guar Cempedak as Dani Lesmana from Polygon Sweet Nice then gave chase. Into the city of Alor Star, the trio of Adiq, Shahrul and Dani have opened up a lead of more than five minutes.
Adiq, who is wearing both the 100PLUS white jersey and also the green jersey for the best sprinter, made a clean sweep of all the sprints on the day to pick up a total of 56 points – 18 points ahead of Aisan’s Mori.
“My plan was to narrow the time gap in the GC (held by Yusup). I did not want to take the risk today of going for the stage win,” added Adiq. “There are still three stages to go and I think that I should be able to finish in the top five this year.”
Into the last 30km, Uzbeskistan Suren then stepped up a gear to close in on the three riders in front. But the fight back came a tad too late as Mohd Shahrul crossed the line first ahead of Dani and Adiq.
“My team worked hard, very hard (to close the gap on the breakaway riders). But it was not easy,” added Yusup, who also holds the blue jersey for the best ranked Asian rider.
Tomorrow’s Stage Four will be the shortest in this year’s race – a 115.6km ride from Kangar, Perlis to Sungai Petani in Kedah.
PODIUM RESULTS – Stage Three
Stage winner – Mohd Shahrul Mat Amin (Terengganu Cycling team)
Yellow Jersey - Yusup Abrekov (Uzbekistan Suren Team)
Green jersey - Muhammad Adiq Husainie Othman (Malaysia Development)
Red jersey – Dadi Suryadi (Putra Perjuangan)
White jersey (Best Malaysian) - Muhammad Adiq Husainie Othman (Malaysia Development)
Blue jersey (Best Asian) – Yusup Abrekov (Uzbekistan Suren Team)
JELAJAH MALAYSIA 2012
STAGE ONE (8 May 2012) – Stadium Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur to Bandar Baru Kampar, Perak (161.5km)
STAGE TWO (9 May 2012) - Bandar Baru Kampar, Perak to Kulim, Kedah (201.8km)
STAGE THREE (10 May 2012) – Kulim, Kedah to Felda Chuping, Perlis (168.8km)
STAGE FOUR (11 May 2012) – Kangar, Perlis to Sungai Petani, Kedah (98.5km)
STAGE FIVE (12 May 2012) - Sungai Petani, Kedah to Ipoh, Perak (193.4km)
STAGE SIX (13 May 2012) – Ipoh, Perak to Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur (199.5km)