The much anticipated 4th stage of the Tour de Langkawi saw the Colombian riders come into their own on the climb up to the Cameron Highlands, as Miguel Angel Lopez (Astana) won the stage ahead of Daniel Jaramillo (United Healthcare). Our South African fast man, Reinardt Janse van Rensburg showed his climbing ability by finishing in a fantastic 3rd position.
The stage started off with a sprint prime coming early on. Janse van Rensburg took 2nd place behind the yellow jersey wearer of Andrea Guardini (Astana) at the prime and this gave our Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka rider a few bonus seconds for the general classification. 3 riders from local Asian teams then got into the break of the day, which later became 4 riders when another domestic Asian team rider joined them later on in the stage.
Tinkoff, Astana and United Healthcare did a lot of the early pace setting from the peloton and they kept close tabs on the break, not allowing them to get more than a 5-minute lead. With 40km to go, the chase to reel in the escapees began. As the final 20km was all uphill, the peloton had the upper hand over the break.
While Janse van Rensburg has certainly erred more to the title of sprinter than climber in the past, Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka always believed Janse van Rensburg could put in a good ride on this climb and so our African Team rode in full support of the South African today. As the peloton slowly began to whittle down on the climb, Janse van Rensburg was showing his versatility always riding near the front with the rest of our African Team, trying to keep the race together as much as possible.
With 5km to go the break was caught and the climbers started attacking. Lopez put in the first meaningful acceleration and quickly got a gap. The United Healthcare team tried to respond but they couldn't get onto the wheel of the Astana rider. Janse van Rensburg could not match the accelerations of the smaller climbers but he just kept a consistently hard tempo going. Lopez went on to cross the line alone, 30 seconds ahead of Jaramillo and Janse van Rensburg out sprinted the climbers he was with to take 3rd place, just 5 seconds further back.
The result of the stage now places Janse van Rensburg 2nd on the general classification, 29 seconds behind Lopez and still 4 flat stages are left to race. Bonus seconds could play an important role in the final result come next Wednesday.
Reinardt Janse van Rensburg - Rider
I felt really good all day and super comfortable over the first part of the climb. Lopez attacked with 5km to go and he was really strong. The team rode well, but unfortunately Johann van Zyl had a puncture on the first part of the climb and had to put in a big effort to come back, and this cost us the final guy we needed to keep things together for me. In the end I had to settle for 3rd, but I proved today that I am more than just a sprinter. A few more stages left and there should be a few more chances for us.
Jens Zemke - Sport Director
Reinardt was 2nd in one of the time bonus sprints so already he moved up to 4th place on GC during the stage. Then Guardini, Palini and Murphy who were ahead of him on GC, were dropped on the climb. Reinardt then came to the finish in a group of maybe 10 or 15 riders but the strong climbers like Lopez and Jaramillo attacked in the final 5km and we could not go with. It was a super performance from the team though and Reinardt now sits 2nd on the GC.