Enrico Barbin (Bardiani-CSF) won stage 6 of Le Tour de Langkawi after racing 176.3km from Senawang to Muar, Malaysia on Monday, and according to the five-year Bardiani sprinter it has been a long time coming.
“This is an important season for me, so to get my first victory here is something big,” said Barbin in a post-race media conference. “This is a crucial season. I was looking for the breakthrough because I was looking for a new dimension in cycling.”
The 26-year-old Italian outsprinted Australian Anthony Giacoppo (IsoWhey Sports-SwissWellness) and fellow Italian Filippo Pozzato (Wilier Triestina), both of whom were leadout riders for their respective team sprinters and previous stage winners, Scott Sunderland and Jakub Mareczko.
However, with a technical final that included a sharp right turn off a bridge crossing the Sungai Muar inside the final 2km, only the lead riders with perfect positioning were able to fight to the line.
“Through the radio we had the perfect explanations of the last kilometre and also the direction of the wind,” explained Barbin. “We went, myself and my team, to the right position on the bridge. We knew after the bridge we had to be on the front with 300m to go because it would be difficult for anyone to pass us.”
Enrico Barbin (far left) took advantage of a technical finish to surprise his rivals in the bunch sprint and claim his first pro win. Photo: Daebong Kim
Image credit: Eurosport
With Sunderland and Mareczko caught behind, Barbin was able to make the most of the opportunity and looks forward with newfound confidence to reload and try again.
“I was feeling good, not just myself but also my team,” he said. “I’m not as fast as the fastest sprinters here, but at end of the race, I took advantage of the circumstances and started my sprint at the right moment.
“For sure in the last stages we will try again, and tomorrow’s final suits me very well.”
With only two stages remaining, stage 5 winner Ryan Gibbons (Dimension Data) maintains an unassailable lead overall and looks assured to take home the points classification as well.
Despite earning a point for taking third on the second of three Cat 4 climbs, mountains classification leader John Ebsen (Infinite AIS) saw his lead narrowing with Wilmar Perez (Sapura) claiming five points on the day.
Perez moves into third for the red and green jersey behind Cameron Highlands stage winner Mekseb Debesay (Dimension Data), who is expected to forego KOM opportunities to protect his teammate’s yellow jersey.
Japan’s Hideo Nakane (Nippo-Vini Fantini) assumed the best Asian rider jersey when former holder Yevgeniy Gidich (Vino-Astana Motors) abandoned the race and fourth-place overall to participate in the Asian Games.
Stage 6 Classification
1. Enrico Barbin, ITA, Bardiani-CSF, 4:09:16
2. Anthony Giacoppo, AUS, IsoWhey Sports-SwissWellness, s.t.
3. Filippo Pozzato, ITA, Wilier Triestina, s.t.
1. Ryan Gibbons, RSA, Dimension Data, 18:53:06
2. Cameron Bayley, AUS, IsoWhey Sports-SwissWellness, +0:23
3. Alberto Cecchin, ITA, Wilier Triestina, +0:27
Race Leader (Yellow Jersey): Ryan Gibbons, RSA, Dimension Data
Points Leader (Teal Jersey): Ryan Gibbons, RSA, Dimension Data
Mountains leader (Red Jersey): John Ebsen, DEN, Infinite AIS Cycling Team
Best Asian Rider (White Jersey): Hideto Nakane, Nippo-Vini Fantini
Best Malaysian Rider: Mohd Zamri Saleh, Terengganu Cycling Team
Best Malaysian Rider Overall: Mohd Shahrul Mat Amin, MAS, Terengganu Cycling Team
Combativity Award: Ronald Yeung, Infinite AIS
Teams Classification: IsoWhey Sports-SwissWellness, 69:08:37