Near-perfect racing conditions usually provide solace to pro cyclists but, to rivals of Tabriz Petrochemical Team, it meant fewer opportunities for race leader Hossein Askari going into today s 104 kilometre stage with a 24? advantage to come unstuck.
Images: Mike Murano
Even more disconcerting for Tabriz s competitors, the Iranian team s track record under pressure suggested problems were unlikely to happen regardless of weather, distance, or terrain, anyway. One only needed to look back at the masterly way in which Tabriz maintained its slimmest-of-slim GC margin throughout the 2.HC-ranked Tour of Qinghai Lake in July this year. The Tabriz-based Continental squad, which has been plagued by internal politics and race withdrawals this year, confidently kept powerful ProContinental teams at bay over two weeks of racing in Asia s highest bike race . With twice the margin in hand at Tour de Brunei, overall victory was perhaps imminent.
In the points classification, Harrif Saleh (Terengganu Cycling Team) also began the stage with a small (2 point) advantage. Saleh was nowhere to be seen when nearest rival Muradjan Halmuratov (China 361 Cycling Team) secured the first of two intermediate sprints at the stage s mid-point, but the 24-year old Malaysian demonstrated exceptional self-confidence in winning the second intermediate to negate Halmuratov s earlier victory and permanently claim the green jersey.
As the race progressed, breakaways were only offered gasps of air by Askari and Saleh s respective teams; the two squads worked to ensure order was maintained for a bunch sprint. Having secured top position in the overall 2012 UCI AsiaTour team rankings, Terengganu was again able to savour the sweet taste of victory as Harrif s younger brother Zamri added another stage win to the team s impressive season.
*Full results coming soon.
FINAL LEADERBOARD Individual General Classification (Yellow jersey): Hossein Askari (Tabriz Petrochemical Team) Points Classification (Green jersey): Mohd Harrif Saleh (Terengganu Cycling Team) King of the Mountains Classification (Red jersey): Maxime Martine (OCBC Singapore Cycling Team) Best Young Rider Classification (White jersey): Duc Tam Trinh (Vietnam National Team)
Best team: Tabriz Petrochemical Team
STAGE FIVE RESULTS
FINAL GENERAL CLASSIFICATION