3/1/2013 12:00:00 AM - TEAM NEWS!
Le Tour de Langkawi 2013 - February 25, Stage 5: Proton - Genting 110.3km
Arredondo claims Genting Highlands victory
Colombian strips race lead from Wang
Julián Arredondo (Team Nippo – De Rosa) soloed to victory at the top of Genting Highlands to win Stage 5 and move into the overall lead at Tour de Langkawi. Arredondo beat Pieter Weening (Orica GreenEdge) to second-place after the two had moved ahead from a 20-man group that formed inside the closing 10km of the stage. Victor Nino Corredor (RTS Racing Team), second on this stage in 2012 finished third, 0:44 back on the day's winner Arredondo.
Meiyin Wang (Hengxiang Cycling Team) put on a valiant effort to stick with the best climbers at Langkawi but began to struggle on the long climb up to the finish next to the famous One World summit resort and dropped to fifth overall, 2:40 down on Arredondo.
The little-known Colombian Arredondo was not a surprise winner on today's stage after finishing more than a minute ahead of most of the favourites on Stage 3 to Cameron Highlands. The 24-year-old had attacked with more than 15km to go on the less selective climb on Stage 3 with Genting's vicious gradient better suited to the talented Nippo rider who's power could not be contained.
"This win is very important for us because we are a little team and to be sharing the roads with the other pro teams is very important," said Arredondo, translated through his team manager.
"We are an Asian team and to win the most beautiful stage, for us, it's incredible. It is like a dream come true.
"I need to thank all my teammates. This is a very big victory for us," he added.
Orica GreenEdge's Weening was the only rider to be able to follow Arredondo when he attacked with 5km to the summit and while looking like a potential stage winner, could do little when the stocky climber accelerated once again. Weening's second-place at 0:26 behind the stage winner pushed him into second-place overall with a 1:22 deficit to the new race leader.
"During the day I was feeling really good, said Weening after the stage. "We were about 10 guys together and I thought for sure it's going to be a sprint from a group so I tried to attack on my own and he followed me. He was too strong.
"I'm quite happy with my shape right now. It's still early in the season so I'm happy," he said.
Last year's second-place rider at Genting Corredor made up for his disappointing ride on Stage 3 by finishing third on the stage. His lost time earlier in the tour means that he still sits well outside the top-ten, with no chance of going one better than his second-place overall at Langkawi in last year's edition.
Meyer out front to Genting
The Queen stage at this year's race may have been the shortest on tour but this was the day for the general classification contenders. A bad day would almost certainly end any hope of a high place on GC with the gruelling climb up Genting Highlands leaving no room to hide.
There were no abandonments from the previous day with the entire 132-rider peloton signing on at the start in Sham Alam. Conditions were not as hot as the day prior, giving some relief to the riders who experienced one of the hottest days on tour during stage 4.
The temperature was sure to heat up as those fearing their climbing ability looked for a chance to start the 1,679m ascent with an advantage over the diminutive climbers. There were plenty of those this morning as riders began to attack immediately after the head commissaire gave the all-clear to race.
It was a nervous opening 20km with groups constantly trying to get away but with so many teams with multiple GC contenders, nothing was getting more than a few seconds clear of the speeding peloton. That was until Travis Meyer (Orica GreenEdge) took off on a lone escape. The bunch seemed content with allowing him some room to breath and starting the day more than 12 minutes behind the race leader Wang.
Meyer, a former Australian national road champion, seemed unperplexed by the task which lay ahead with approximately 90km remaining before reaching the finish atop the Hors Category mountain. Meyer's gap grew to a maximum advantage of some nine minutes, taking all three intermediate sprints along the way before the bunch lead by the Hengxiang team started to bring him back.
Europcar put its intentions on display by assisting with the chase as the field hit the steep lower part of the Genting climb and Meyer was quickly swallowed up. A group of around 50 riders formed soon after hitting the 15% gradient with race leader Wang safely tucked into the front of the group. He was rapidly losing teammates but the yellow jersey wearing remained comfortable as the road kicked up once again.
The group dwindled as the kilometres ticked over and Meiyin Wang soon found himself dangling off the back. The yellow jersey wearer didn't give up, hanging just 30 seconds behind a group of 20 riders that were still together with approximately 15km.
The leading group contained all the contenders for the general classification with Nathan Haas, Peter Stetina (Garmin Sharp), Pieter Weening (Orica GreenEdge), Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma – Quick-Step), Jonathan Monsalve (Vini Fantini – Selle Italia), Lucas Euser (United Healthcare), Pierre Rolland (Europcar), Tomas Gil (Androni Giocatolli), Sergio Pardilla, Tsgabu Grmay, Jacques Van Rensburg (MTN Qhubeka), John Ebsen (Synergy – Baku Cycling Project), Ghader Misbani (Tabriz Petrochemical Team), Victor Nino Corredor (RTS Racing Team), Julian Arredondo and Fortunato Baliani (Team Nippo) all present with 5km to go.
Wang had been dropped and was losing minutes on the road and with just under 5km to go Weening attacked the group. Arredondo was the only rider to follow the Dutchman from Orica GreenEdge and while Weening looked for assistance to extend their lead Arredondo had other ideas.
Coming into the final 2km it was Arredondo who had almost half a minute lead over Weening and while still racing for time over the other GC contenders, spent most of the final 50m saluting the crowd who had braved the cold and rain to see the Colombian win the stage and move into the overall lead at Langkawi.
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Photo credit © Roberto Bettini