The 1st stage of Le Tour de Langkawi saw a familiar victor as Andrea Guardini (Astana) sprinted to the stage win ahead of Brenton Jones (Drapac) and Andrea Palini (SkyDive Dubai).
As the stage was always expected to end in a mass sprint, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka were riding in support of Reinardt Janse van Rensburg. 4 riders would form the early escape of the day and the peloton let them ride up to 6 minutes ahead of the rest of the race. Guardini, who had already won 18 stages of the Tour de Langkawi before today, put his Astana team on the front of the peloton to control the gap.
With 30km to go, it was encouraging to see our Rwandan star Adrien Niyonshuti driving the peloton forward as the Tour de Langkawi is his first race back after undergoing a stomach operation in the off season. As the finish line in Baling neared, the intensity of the chase increased and with 6km to go the race was all together.
Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka had organised its leadout on the right side of the peloton with Songezo Jim, Johann van Zyl, Nic Dougall and Jaco Venter all ready to deliver Janse van Rensburg to the line. The team had done a great job to get into a winning position with 1km to go but the final sprint was frantic, with riders diving into the final left hand corner at 300m to go. Coming through that final bend, Janse van Rensburg was caught behind a rider with a mechanical which hindered his sprint somewhat. As Guardini surged to victory, our South African fast man had to settle for 7th position on the stage.
Jens Zemke - Sport Director
Today's first stage was 166km and we were prepared for a sprint. The boys worked well together and they did a good leadout for Reinardt. They brought him to 8th position going through the last corner, Guardini was in 6th. Then the rider from Bardiani, who was in front of Reinardt, dropped his chain and Reinardt had to ride around him so he finished 7th. This is not the result we had hoped for but the boys did a good job, they rode together, performed the leadout and there is more to come from them as we know 7th position is not the best we can do.