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“That will obviously have a major bearing on the race because it was a really hard climb. It’s not great for us either because it was perfect for Sebastian."

Photo: Sirotti






08.03.2015 @ 12:34 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Team Sky kept their powder dry on the opening stage of the Tour de Langkawi as the sprinters kicked things off in Pantai Cenang.


With the main general classification battles coming later in the race, Team Sky let the sprint teams take the reins for much of the 99.2km blast around Langkawi, but helped bring a six-man breakaway back in the final hour of action before allowing the lead-out trains back to the fore.


It was Andrea Guardini who emerged triumphant, with the Astana rider comfortably outpacing Caleb Ewan (Orica-GreenEdge) for a record 15th win in the race.  Chris Sutton led Team Sky home in 16th position, with climbing talent Sebastian Henao just three places behind.


Bonus seconds saw Guardini open up a four-second lead on Ewan in the battle for the yellow jersey, with five of Team Sky’s six riders all just 10 seconds adrift.


Back at the hotel, Sports Director Gabriel Rasch gave more details on how the day unfurled: He said: “Our main goal today was to make sure Ian [Boswell], Sebasitan [Henao] and Philip [Deignan] didn’t lose any time on the other GC riders, and we achieved that.


“The guys did a good job to make sure they were towards the front before the sprint started, and it was unfortunate that CJ got left out in the wind in the last kilometre as he was fighting for Guardini’s wheel. That meant he didn’t quite have the punch when it mattered, but the main thing was everyone rolled home safely.


“There was a crash with around 2km to go, and although Nathan [Earle] was really, really close to it, he was able to stay on his bike.”



Rasch was also able to shed more light on the news that Saturday’s queen stage has been altered due to landslides on the final climb to Genting Highlands.


He added: “The race was due to be all-but decided on that hors-categorie ascent, but the roads have been forced to close due to those landslides.


“That will obviously have a major bearing on the race because it was a really hard climb. It’s not great for us either because it was perfect for Sebastian.


“They’ve extended Saturday’s stage from 105.7km to 177km, but once we get to the foot of the mountain we’ve been diverted up a Fraser Hill. Although it’s a good climb at 7-8km long, it’s nowhere near as hard as the original one.


“We’re still confident we can do something though, so our overall plan remains the same.” 



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