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Stage 5: Muar - Port Dickson 111.5km Manan delivers Malaysia's maiden win

06/03/2010 04:28 0 Comentarios Lectura: ( palabras)

Local boy jubilant while Erler waits for Genting test A delighted Anuar Manan (Geumsan Ginseng Asia) from Malaysia get his first ever stage of the Tour de Langkawi.A delighted Anuar Manan (Geumsan Ginseng Asia) from Malaysia get his first ever stage of the Tour de Langkawi.

View thumbnail gallery It was bound to happen sooner or later; a Malaysian race, the enhancement of that nation's cycling stocks and eventually a stage winner in the country's biggest race. Today Anuar Manan made history by taking line honours in Port Dickson, becoming Malaysia's first stage winner and enhancing his chances of securing the sprint classification, which he narrowly missed out on in 2008. The gutsy sprinter held off consistent Spanish rider Vidal Celis (Footon-Servetto) and the experienced René Haselbacher (Vorarlberg-Corratec) to chalk up his first stage victory after a week of near misses thus far at the Tour de Langkawi. The 23-year-old explained after the finish that a change of strategy resulted in today's outcome - his focus on the stage win rather than accumulating points along the 111.5km race route benefiting his chances of standing on the podium in Kuala Lumpur in the green jersey. "I can beat Matthews but before [in previous stages] I worked very hard for the points jersey and Matthews took more points for [winning] the finishes. That's why I always tried to win the intermediate [sprints] but today I changed the strategy - I saved my energy to help me get to the finish line faster and beat Matthews, " said Manan. "Today it was easier for me to take the green points jersey - at the first intermediate sprint I was in the breakaway and had many Malaysian riders helping me to get the points - I didn't have to use too much power to win the intermediate [sprint]. "After that I just watched Michael Matthews so he didn't take the points and I stayed in the group to save my energy, not like yesterday when I was always fighting for the first, second and third intermediate [sprints]. Having finished second to Aurélien Clerc in the points classification of the 2008 Tour de Langkawi, Manan explained that he had been confident of going one better in 2010 and today's result was confirmation of this. "The green jersey was my target in this year's race because in 2008 I almost won it and in 2009 I didn't have good results but I know I can do it better than in 2008, " he said. "This year I've had good preparation for Langkawi and I've been training hard plus my teammates are also better and my manager is good - we have good strategies and a lot of synergy. We're always talking and tells me about the race strategy, which is why I'm better than last year." Manan is one of the crowd favourites and a poster boy for the local media, so today's victory was shared amongst the thousands who had been monitoring his progress throughout the week. He was quick to praise everyone who helped him achieve this monument in the race's history. "I want to thank the Malaysian people because they always support me and help me to win a stage. I'm also happy for my Malaysian team - my teammates worked hard for me. They made it an easy day for me today - I didn't lose too much energy for the big points and the last sprint. I have the green jersey but I must be careful of Michael Matthews because he is a good sprinter. Tomorrow I'll try to get more points and extend my lead over Matthews. Tomorrow there is also the hard climb and I'll try to stay in the best group for me." Getting ready for Genting already It was an old-fashioned game of bluff during today's stage, with general classification hopeful and perennial Langkawi performer Ghader Mizbani forcing rival squad ISD-Neri to chase him down when he made the day's first break - a dangerous move for the Italian team to leave off the front given it has overall contender Jose Rujano to protect. The talented Iranian was joined in the group of 14 by Pedro Merino (Footon-Servetto), Pierpaolo De Negri (ISD - Neri), Rene Weissinger (Vorarlberg - Corratec), mountains classification leaders Peter McDonald (Drapac-Porsche), Sea Keong Loh (Marco Polo Cycling), Takeaki Ayabe (Aisan Racing), Manan, Malcolm Rudolph (Jayco-Skins), Hossein Nateghi (Azad University Iran), Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit Strategies), Christoff Van Heerden (South Africa National Team), Rusli Amir and Shahrul Mat Amin (both Malaysia National Team). "Today my teammate Ghader Mizbani had a really impressive ride - he was in the first breakaway and ISD had to chase it down. They were really strong today and they had to work almost the whole stage and hopefully they have tired legs tomorrow, " said Erler. And while Manan collected the points at the first intermediate sprint, the break didn't fare better and was deemed too dangerous to be left out alone with only 111km to be run in what were arguably the hottest, most stifling conditions seen in this year's race. A more 'leader-friendly' pairing of Alexandr Shushemoin (Kazakhstan National Team) and Bradeley Hall (Marco Polo Cycling) was let go after 55km and given free rein until about 18km to the finish, when it was time to muster the troops and prepare for the inevitable sprint finish in Port Dickson. Unlike the previous four stages however, it was Manan's time to cross the finish line first, with Matthews finishing a distant eighth place, his efforts of the week so far seemingly having caught up with him. Race leader Tobias Erler is another who is suffering from his endeavours in the sun and his time spent in yellow, the German under no illusions when it came to his own chances of holding on to the yellow jersey for another day: "I think the chance of me keeping the yellow jersey tomorrow is almost zero percent, except if the other guys crash, " he joked. He admitted that Footon-Servetto's Markus Eibegger could be a man to watch on tomorrow's Genting climb - "I know him well, he's a good friend of mine; I think he will be strong tomorrow, " said Erler, adding that Jose Rujano and four of his teammates may animate the race in the penultimate and most decisive stage for overall honours. His teammate Mizbani is one of those to watch, and Erler said of the Iranian, "I hope I can work for him. I don't know the mountain - they say it's pretty steep for five kilometres then it's flat before another eight kilometres of really steep [gradient]. It depends on how I climb. I had to work a lot the last couple of days - I can go fast, but I don't know what my legs are going to say tomorrow. "For sure I'll try and work for all of my team, so whether it's Ghader, Andrey [Mizurov], Hossein [Askari] or Ahad [Kazemi] it makes no difference, I'll work for my team." Full Results 1 Anuar Manan (Mas) Geumsan Ginseng Asia 2:23:11   2 Vidal Celis (Spa) Footon-Servetto     3 René Haselbacher (Aut) Vorarlberg - Corratec     4 Ruslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Kazakhstan National Team     5 Alex Candelario (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies     6 Johann Rabie (RSA) South Africa National Team     7 Christoff Van Heerden (RSA) South Africa National Team     8 Michael Matthews (Aus) Team Jayco - Skins     9 Ahmad Haidar Anuawar (Mas) Marco Polo Cycling Team     10 Dmytro Grabovskyy (Ukr) ISD - Neri

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