The trick was not to attack too early in the Jelajah Malaysia’s longest stage this year and Yusup Abrekov of the Uzbekistan Cycling team certainly got his strategy right after the more than 200km ride north to usurp into the tour leader yellow jersey.
The 27-year-old who did not speak much English, was all smile after the victory when he said: “it was a very good race, very good weather, very good organisation.”
With the local fans banking on the Terengganu Cycling team to protect Shinichi Fukushima’s hold of the yellow jersey after yesterday’s Stage One, there were just two breakaways on the day which began with six riders taking off at the 20m marker after Simpang Pulai.
The six riders were Alex Coutts (RTS Racing team), Mohd Al Ghazali Abdul Hamid (Malaysia Development team), Azamat Tuarev (Uzbekistan Suren team), Ahmad Fallanie Ali and Mohamad Razif Salleh (Kuala Lumpur) as well as Armed Forces’ Amirul Aswandey Amran.
Approaching the first intermediate sprint of the day at Tasek (marker 33.6km), the six riders were just 20seconds ahead of the peloton which led to Ahmad Fallanie picking up five points over Mohamad Razif and Al Ghazali.
Just before reaching Bandar Baru Klebang (marker 40km), Ahmad Fallanie dropped off as the breakaway then opened to more than two minutes lead over the peloton as they approached the second sprint at Kati. The second sprint was won by Ahmad Razif, who took it ahead of Al Ghazali and Amirul.
Immediately, Tuarev launched an attack which saw him moved 25seconds over the four riders and more than two minutes over the peloton. Following an accident in the bunch, Tuarev increased the gap over the four chasers to more than a minute with the bunch closing in.
But the peloton soon caught up with the breakaway group as they gear up for the testing climb at KOM 1 of Bukit Sumpitan.
Dadi Suryadi of Putra Perjuangan took the KOM to be followed by Yusup Abrekov (Uzbekistan Suren team), RTS Racing’s Jai Crawford, Tonton Susanto (Putra Perjuangan), RTS’s Lee Rodgers and Alex Coutts.
With the ten points, Dadi took over the KOM red jersey from TSG’s Saufi Mat Senan.
“I did not have a good preparation for this race but I spoke to Tonton and the plan was for us to take the red jersey,” added Dadi. “We will work even harder in the next few days to protect it.”
A new breakaway group was formed as they descended Bukit Sumpitan with Tonton Susanto, Dadi Suryadi of Putra Perjuangan, Yusup Abrekov of Suren and Jai Crawford of RTS, Lee Rodgers (RTS) and Yasuharu Najakima (Aisan).
The third intermediate sprint in Selama was won by Aisan Yasuharu Nakajima to be followed by Yusup, Jai Crawford and Dadi.
Rodgers then dropped off at the last 3km as the peloton closed in on the front pack but it was just a tad too late to stop the five riders from crossing the line first.
“I was second in 2009 and I did not want to be second again,” said stage winner Crawford. “The Japanese rider (Yasuharu) was a good sprinter but I managed to get on his wheel and I just took off.”
While Yusup stole to the yellow, Malaysia’s Muhammad Adiq Husainie Othman still maintained his hold of the 100PLUS white (for the best ranked Malaysian) and also the green jerseys (for the best sprinter).
“The target for me is the 100PLUS white jersey as I feel that I can maintain my position in the top ten of the GC,” added Adiq. “But the green will be tough as there are several good sprinters in the race this year.”
PODIUM RESULTS – Stage One
Stage winner – Jai Crawford (RTS Racing 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)