After claiming only one win in the previous three seasons, Italian sprinter Pelucchi (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec) bested a pair of Terengganu sprinters, including 2015 race winner Youcef Reguigui (ALG) and recent Stage 2 winner Harrif Saleh (MAS) at the conclusion of a fast and furious bunch sprint final in Alor Setar, Malaysia on Thursday.
It was the second straight stage win for the former Bora-Hansgrohe rider, who edged budding Australian track star Blake Quick (St George Continental Cycling Team) and current points leader Travis McCabe (Floyd’s Pro Cycling) of the USA a day earlier.
Tour de Langkawi
Dyball only second Aussie to win Le Tour de Langkawi
Neither Androni nor rival Italian UCI Professional Continental team Bardiani-CSF, who starts the race’s all-time leading stage winner (24) Andrea Guardini (ITA), could muster a victory in the first half of the eight-day race. According to Pelucchi, Androni’s success comes despite lacking a fully developed sprint strategy.
“We have a group with a lot of climbers, and we have me and Marco [Benfatto] as sprinters, so we can’t work so much in the flat, but we try to cover the race in the breakaway and try to do our best,” Pelucchi told Eurosport. “For the moment it’s worked, so we hope to continue like this.”
After several failed attacks early in the race, a 17-rider break finally stuck in the latter half of the stage before being caught by the pack with three kilometres to go in the 130.8-kilometre route from Bagan.
“Today was a really fast stage,” he added. “Every team wants to go in the breakaway and wants to animate the race, so it is really hard to control. Especially for us, because we don’t have a lot of guys that can pull all day. Our strategy is to always jump in the dangerous breakaway and hope that everybody goes back together for the sprint.
For fellow former WorldTour rider (Dimension Data) Reguigui, the reigning three-time Algerian champion was all smiles after the finish and hopes his new team’s two-pronged sprint attack with Saleh will bring even more results with two remaining stages set on island of Langkawi.
“I had a bad day yesterday and today was much better,” explained the 29-year-old, who finished third in the African road race championships last month. “We have two wildcards, for me and for Mohd Harrif, and we do 100 percent. We are lucky to do second and third. I hope next two stages we get another victory so we make the team happy.”
Queen stage winner Benjamin Dyball, who lifted the yellow jersey two days ago with his victory atop the infamous Genting Highlands summit finish, maintains a 27-second lead over his nearest rival — Colombian Hernán Aguirre (Interpro Cycling Academy) in second.
“Today was very stressful,” admitted Dyball. “The first 90km was attack after attack and big splits just kept going off the front. Every one seemed to have someone pretty high on GC, so we had to keep pulling them in basically.”
With only two days remaining, both of which favour the sprinters, the 29-year-old Australian is hopeful, yet skeptical of an easy ride toward the overall win.
“We just have to let the right guys in the break,” he told Eurosport. “No one seems happy, so I think it’s going to be more like today. Hopefully it will be easier but I don’t think so. Just have to control it the best we can.”
For full stage and race results, click here.
Tour de Langkawi
Pelucchi posts first victory in Androni colours in Langkawi
Tour de Langkawi
Dyball dominates atop Genting, dons yellow