Spaniard wins inaugural Tour of Peninsula

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 — Spanish cyclist Marcos Garcia created history for himself today by clinching the inaugural Tour of Peninsula (ToP) title after the fifth and last stage from Kuala Lipis to Setiawangsa here.

The 32-year-old from Kinan Cycling Team won the yellow jersey (overall leader) via an absolute three minutes and two seconds advantage over second placed Igor Chzhan, with an overall time of 16 hours, 59 minutes and seven seconds, despite finishing 35th, 16s behind today’s winner in the bunch.

Garcia, who gained the three-minute advantage after winning the queen stage from Sungai Koyan to Cameron Highlands yesterday, also secured the red jersey (King of Mountain) with 37 points, two points higher than teammate Thomas Lebas.

“Today’s race a bit crazy and another difficult stage. Everyone wanted to finish it fast, but with good team work, we managed to control the race.

“I am very happy to become the first winner of ToP. I hope to come back next year to defend the title, but it depends on the team,” he said after the prize-giving ceremony at Wangsa Walk Mall here.

The ToP title is the Spaniard’s second UCI (International Cycling Union) 2.1 Asia Tour title, after winning the 2018 Tour of Japan. He also won the 2.2 Tour de Hokkaido in 2017.

The one-two finish at Cameron Highlands with teammate Thomas also contributed to the Kinan Cycling Team’s win in team classification with a total time of 51:06:54s, followed by two Malaysian teams — Terengganu Inc TSG Cycling Team (TSG) with 51:09:34s and Team Sapura Cycling (TSC) with 51:11:25s.

In the 151.4km distance race today, Moldovan Cristian Raileanu from TSC secured his second podium in ToP by clocking 03 hours, 19 minutes and 12 seconds, followed by Iranian Mohammad Esmaeil Chaichiraghimi from Foolad Mobarakeh Sepahan, with similar time.

Sofian Nabil Omar Mohd Bakri from the Malaysian national team headed the bunch finish to secure third place, 14s behind the two leaders.

Meanwhile, TSG’s Nur Amirul Fakhruddin Marzuki could not defend his blue jersey (King of Sprint) after failing to add points in today’s three sprint zones at Raub, Bentong and Gombak, as South African Rohan du Plooy from Protouch sprinted for another 14 points to wrest the jersey with 58 points in total.

Kazakhstan’s Igor took the white jersey after leading the Best Asian rider classification with an overall time of 17:02:09s, followed by Singaporean Choon Huat Goh of TSG (17:03:09s) and Muhammad Nur Aiman Mohd Zariff of TSC (17:03:26s).

The 751.6km distance race started on Tuesday with a 180.6km long Dungun-Kuala Terengganu stage, followed by Kuala Terengganu-Chukai, Kuantan-Karak, Sungai Koyan-Cameron Highlands, before finishing today. — Bernama

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