With a powerful finishing kick Andrea Guardini got his Tour de Langkawi campaign off to a familiar start, by winning stage one and taking his 19th stage victory in the race. It is the third time the Italian has led after the opening stage as he fended off Brenton Jones and Andrea Palini for the win.
The 2016 Tour de Langkawi got underway with a 166.6km stage from Kangar to Baling. The stage was largely unchallenging but for three categorised climbs; the most severe being a category 3 climb that peaked with 24km of racing remaining. A breakaway was always likely to try and animate the stage, particularly with time bonuses at the intermediate sprint; and so it proved in this case. Adiq Hussainie Othman of Terengganu, Loh Sea Keong of the Malaysian National Team and Skydive Dubal’s Meher Hasnaoui were joined by Wang Meiyin of Hengxiang Cycling Team and together the quartet built a lead that peaked at 6.50mins after 50km of racing.
Gradually though the lead was brought back to the point where Loh Sea Keong decided to try for a solo breakaway attempt. It was a valiant effort that saw him last all the way up until the final 10km before the peloton swept him up and the bunch settled in for the sprint finish.
With the sprint coming up in the run in to the finish the pace was kept high with Astana not playing a very loud role on the front of the peloton. A number of teams were present however and persisted in driving the race towards the line at a pace that deterred any attacks from going clear. The racing was so furious though that with 4km to go a large crash occurred that brought down Andrea Guardini’s teammate Ruslan Tleubayev of Astana, forcing him to abandon with a broken clavicle.
Under the 1km to go banner it was very uncertain who would come away with the win, with no team dominating on the front. Eventually though Drapac Pro Cycling led it out, with the hope of sending Brenton Jones to the win, but after the last corner, Guradini powered through from a few wheels back to snatch the way ahead of the Australian with Skydive Dubai’s Andrea Palini securing third place.
Tom Scully of Drapac Pro Cycling and James Oram of ONE Pro Cycling both managed to stay out of trouble and secure their places in the main bunch after the first day of racing. Scully had done a fantastic job to support teammate Brown to second place on the first day of racing. James Oram and ONE Pro Cycling had a quieter day by comparison, with Karol Domagalski paying attention to goings on at the front.