Not even the palpable haze blanketing Jelajah Malaysia could choke the momentum of Synergy Baku Cycling Project’s excellent inaugural season as Kirill ‘The Killer’ Pozdnyakov launched his winning attack just two kilometres from the finish line to claim victory in the 188km first stage.
The young Russian rider made his decisive attack on a slight uphill, moving clear of an eight-man group and taking the race’s first yellow jersey with a 12 second advantage over Adiq Husainie Othman (Malaysia National Team). Kazushige Kuboki (Matrix Powertag) took third place.
Pozdnyakov steered clear from the group containing Adiq, Kuboki, Elchin Asadov (Synergy Baku), Sergey Kuzmin (Polygon Sweet Nice), Samuel Davis (Huon Salmon Genesys), Loh Sea Keong (OCBC Singapore Cycling Team) and Mohd Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi (Polis Diraja Malaysia).
“I wanted to wait for a sprint finish but as we approach the final two kilometres, there was a slight uphill and I attacked,” said Pozdnyakov, whose win takes to three his 2013 haul following Tour of Taiwan in March and An Pos Ras last month. He was not in the break by chance. Earlier before the race, DS Jeremy Hunt had indicated that the Russian would be the go-to guy for the GC and sprints in Jelajah. “He will be our man,” said Hunt, in a clear, crisp tone.
Like most AsiaTour races, the opening stage was full of nerve and action. With fewer than half of the 20 teams known quantities (ie Continental teams) the peloton couldn’t determine who was a threat, making it difficult for a break to form. A flurry of attacks went after the 20km mark but none succeeded. Close to halfway into the stage, a 31-man break began gaining on the field with the gap threatening to exceed seven minutes. However, after the second Cat 4 KOM in Pedas (at 157.7km), cohesion gave way to self-serving antics and the lead group thinned to just eight riders with just 15km remaining. With Othman the most likely to win in a bunch sprint, Pozdnyakov played the only card he could.
The second stage of Jelajah Malaysia will take riders on a 197.6km route from Rembau to Batu Pahat. With a solitary Cat 4 climb after 67.8km of racing, sprinter’s teams will likely remain untroubled as the push the pedal to the metal for a bunch sprint.
Individual General Classification (Yellow jersey): Kirill Pozdnyakov (Synergy Baku Cycling Project)
Points Classification (Green jersey): Adiq Othman (Malaysia National Team)
Best Asian Rider Classification (Blue jersey): Adiq Othman (Malaysia National Team)
Best Malaysian Rider Classification (White jersey): Adiq Othman (Malaysia National Team)
King of the Mountains Classification (Red jersey): Adiq Othman (Malaysia National Team)
Teams General Classification: Synergy Baku Cycling Project
FULL RESULTS SHEET (PDF) HERE
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE ONE