Three days after taking a top five result in Kerteh, Harrif Saleh (Terrengganu Inc. TSG Cycling Team) received a hero’s welcome following his bunch sprint victory over WorldTour rider and Stage 3 winner Max Walscheid in front of an adoring crowd, which included his family, at the Stage 5 finish of Le Tour de Langkawi in Ipoh on Tuesday.
After enduring treacherous weather atop the queen stage summit finish in the Genting Highlands, 31-year-old Malaysian sprinter out-muscled the German giant, as well as Italian Matteo Pelucchi (Bardiani CSF-Faizane) to claim his second career stage win at LTdL following a brutal 165.8-kilometre day in the saddle under blistering conditions on the second-longest stage of the race.
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"I am in my best form and I came to this race with good preparation and support from all my teammates, the team staff, my family, everyone helped me get to this form," said Harrif. "I knew Walscheid with his large figure would be a challenge, but I had no problem getting into position and launching my sprint.
"The sprinters know me so I was given space and my teammates helped me get into a good position for the sprint," continued Harrif, who had only recently recovered from a nerve injury which affected sight in his right eye. "It was quite a serious injury. It affected the nerve in my right eye and I had trouble seeing through that eye. Even now, it isn't fully cured and doctors have told me I won't be getting back to 100 percent. The vision from my right eye is still blurred, but it isn't too much of a problem."
The 2015 South East Asian road also won Stage 2 last year in Melaka.
The 25th edition of LTdL continues on Stage 6 with what could be the final realistic opportunity for Yevgeniy Federov (Vini-Astana Motors) to reclaim his yellow jersey from Italian Danilo Celano (Team Sapura Cycling).
Celano lifted the jersey from the Kazakh after a second-place result on the decisive mountain stage behind Kevin Rivera (Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec), who became the first Costa Rican to win a stage in the race’s 25-year history, and leads the Federov by 30 seconds on general classification, followed by Russian Artem Ovechkin of TSG (+0:35).
The sixth stage features two categorised climbs over the 150.9km route from Taiping toPulau Pinang, including a short, but steep Cat. 1 at the 122.1km mark.
Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images
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