Australian Aaron Donnelly romped clear from a small group to win today s 197.6km second stage, but third-placed Loh Sea Keong wore the brightest smile, taking over the yellow jersey and a small treasure of others from Synergy Baku s Kirill Pozdnyakov.
Synergy Baku (BCP) Directeur Sportif Jeremy Hunt was determined that his team would try to control the race; but outgoing race-leader Pozdnyakov could only finish in the bunch, 1 08 behind Donnelly (Huon Salmon Genesys Wealth Advisers). Sandwiched between Donnelly and Loh (OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team) was 47-year-old Lex Nederlof (CCN Cycling Team).
Loh now leads by 14 seconds ahead of Sergey Kuzmin (Polygon Sweet Nice) and 41 seconds over Pozdnyakov. Adiq Husainie Othman (Malaysia National Team) dropped to fourth on GC, a further 53 seconds down, and also virtually handed over his clutch of jerseys to Loh.
The requisite entr e of attacks was served early in the race; but this was a distant memory by the time the only categorised climb (Cat 4) at Gemenceh materialised. After 33.8km of racing, four riders had established a succesful break; Team Corbusier s Daniel Bonello, LBC s Denver Casayuran, Matrix Powertag s Sota Ikebe and OCBC Singapore s Goh Choon Huat were the early protagonists.
Almost 120 kilometres passed by the time Loh, Donnelly, Nederlof and Kuzmin bridged to the quartet with 43 kilometres remaining. It was not before time that Terengganu Cycling Team (TSG) realised that it would be difficult to set up a bunch sprint for Mohd Harrif Salleh and sent Mohd Saiful Anuar Aziz who had Mohd Rauf Nur Misbah (Malaysia National Team) and Salahuddin Mat Saman (Polis Diraja Malaysia) in tow. Mark Lexer Galedo (Team 7-Eleven pb Roadbike Philippines), Edgar Nohales (Polygon Sweet Nice) and Aldi Apriani (Custom Cycling Club) made the jump to the front group soon after, making it a strong 14-man break that would stretch its lead to a formidable 8 35 .
Loh tried to break free from the break with five kilometres to go, taking Nederlof with him as their breakaway companions searched one another for cues. Donnelly decided to join in the fun and it proved beneficial as he was strongest of the three.
I wasn t really confident to win if it was a three-up sprint so I jumped a bit early and got it. It was a hard day and a long stage but I guess I had enough in the tank, said Donnelly, a former Jayco-AIS squad member.
But the toast for the day was for Loh Sea Keong who, at the end of day, held a slim 14 advantage over Kuzmin in the GC; significantly, it is the first time an OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team rider has donned a yellow jersey in a UCI race. This is the biggest moment of my career to wear this jersey in a home race, said the 26-year-old Malaysian. My team-mates are ready to defend the jersey until we reach the end of the race in Putrajaya (on Sunday). Even if we lose it, we will still walk out of the battlefield proud.
Stage three should be nothing short of a fast and furious affair as riders tackle a short 94.7km route from Batu Pahat to Pontian in Johore.
Jason Christie (OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team) | 4th in stage 2, 10th on GC at 1 42
The stage started fast with lots of attacks but Baku just rode the front and kept everyone in check. The chase (to the four-man breakaway) only started with about 50-60km to go; at around 40km to go, everyone was attacking. (10 kilometres later) a group of three was up the road by about a minute and still a minute behind the leaders. I went solo across to the group and Donnelly and another guy tried to go with me but couldn t close the gap. Once I got to the three I chose to ride with them instead of going alone as 25km is a long way solo. Donnelly caught up and we caught the break. Loh s group came across, we all rode together and got 1 30 . Sea Keong went off the front with 6km to go, then Donnelly and Lex went across. It s great Loh took the lead today
Individual General Classification (Yellow jersey): Loh Sea Keong (OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team) Points Classification (Green jersey): Loh Sea Keong (OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team) Best Asian Rider Classification (Blue jersey): Loh Sea Keong (OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team) Best Malaysian Rider Classification (White jersey): Loh Sea Keong (OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team) King of the Mountains Classification (Red jersey): Rustom Lim (LBC-MVPSF Cycling Pilipinas)
Teams General Classification: OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team
FULL RESULTS SHEET (PDF) HERE
STAGE 2 RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE TWO