2013 Jelajah Malaysia | Stage 5: Melaka Putrajaya |

Loh Sea Keong created history for himself and his OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling team in Putrajaya today, becoming the first Malaysian winner of Jelajah Malaysia since the race joined the UCI AsiaTour in 2007. 2013 Azerbaijan National Road Race Champion, Samir Jabrayilov, took out the final stage.

IMAGES: Mokhriz Aziz (UCI AsiaTour photographer)
WORDS: Shamshul Fitri (Journalist, The Star) & Cycling iQ

The OCBC rider retained a slim 14 second advantage over Sergey Kuzmin of Polygon Sweet Nice to become only the third Malaysian to win a UCI AsiaTour stage race*. Russian rider Kirill Pozdnyakov of Synergy Baku Cycling Project completed the podium, 41 seconds behind Loh.

Jabrayilov (Synergy Baku Cycling Project) snared the stage win in a three-up sprint against breakaway companions Ronald Oranza (LBC-MVPSF Cycling Pilipinas) and Galedo Mark Lexer (Team 7 Eleven pb Roadbike Philipppines); the trio finishing 11 seconds ahead of the peloton, having first broken free with 30 kilometres remaining.

Before today s 169.8km haul from Melaka to Malaysia s administrative capital in Putrajaya, the stage had been set for GC contenders to launch a last ditch attempt to topple Loh s lead. Almost immediately out of neutral, a small break of five riders Ronnel Hualda (T7E), Endre Wijaya (CCC), Elan Riyadi (PPB), Mohd Salahuddin Mat Saman (PDM) and Fahmi Ahmad Fuat (MAS) went clear, quickly establishing a one minute lead over the peloton by the first 10km marker.

Attempting to bridge to the lead five were the duo of Abdul Rashid Ibrahim (Negeri Sembilan) and Daniel Bonello (Team Corbusier), followed soon after by Naoki Mukaigawa (Matrix Powertag), Adnan Taha Sayed Alawi and Ismail Isa Ayoob (both Bahrain National team). Bonello and Rashid succeeded in closing the gap, whilst Group Mukaigawa floundered, eventually succumbing to the peloton whilst still inside the first third of the stage.

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By contrast, the lead seven made significant progress, adding several minutes advantage and creating a new virtual leader and runner-up overall in the form of Salahuddin and Wijaya, respectively. After Rashid suffered a mechanical, forcing his ejection from the northbound group, the gap which grew to almost seven minutes started to head south; the 212m Category 3 climb at 119.7km heralded the beginning of the end.

Immediately upon the main field making contact with Group Hualda, Galedo (T7E) and Oranza (LBC) counter-attacked. With Loh now riding a veritable wave of nationalist support from Malaysian riders, this was a courageous move by the Filipinos, who began the stage in 12th and 14th position on GC 1 46 and 2 03 respectively behind Loh. Sensing an opportunity, Jabrayilov chased and latched on.

OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling marshalled the peloton, though dangerously permitted the trio a maximum lead of 2 16 before Terengganu Cycling Team and Huon Salmon Genesys Wealth Advisers stepped in to a support role to set up for a bunch sprint. The trajectory of the peloton s advance on the lead three riders made capture seem imminent but, against all odds, the gap held stubbornly above 1 00 with five kilometres of available road. This time, the field miscalculated and could only look on as, 200 metres ahead, Jabrayilov passed under the finishing banner, torso straightened, arms aloft.


Loh Sea Keong (OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team) | 32nd in stage 5, 1st Overall
It is unbelievable to win the yellow jersey .a feeling I cannot describe. I must thank the team for the effort in keeping me in yellow since taking over from the second day. This one is a special one for me and it is definitely one for the Malaysian riders

Jason Christie (OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team) | 20th in stage 5, 11th on GC at 1 42?
The last day of racing meant only one thing for the team today; go all out to win the GC for Loh. The team rode fantastic to control the race throughout the whole stage, although I have thank a lot of other teams especially Malaysian riders who helped us by taking up the chase to the break. Without their help, maybe we would have not won. A great week for OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team and I hope this only the start of what is to come.

Mohd Harrif Salleh (Terengganu Cycling Team) | 4th in stage 5, 15th on GC at 2 14 , Points Jersey
I m a bit disappointed not to have the bunch sprint today because it was very close. But in the end I m glad to be taking home the green jersey. It was a good race overall for me as I won a stage (Stage 3) even though it could have been more.

Anthony Giacoppo (Huon Salmon Genesys Wealth Advisers) | 6th in stage 5, 17th on GC at 2 31
Overall it was a good race for us as we took two stages (Aaron Donnelly, stage 2; Giacoppo, stage 4). It could have been more but you can t always get what you wanted. It was different racing here because you don t know the riders. Back home we are racing against familiar faces and tactics so we knew what to do. But this is racing. Sam Davis got up in the top ten in GC (7th, 1 03 behind) and it is a bonus for us .

Jeremy Hunt (Synergy Baku Cycling Project) Directeur Sportif
We came here to win the race; we wanted to launch Kirill in an attack but it wasn t strong enough. But I m proud of the guys (and we) grabbed the team GC.

Individual General Classification (Yellow jersey): Loh Sea Keong (OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team) Points Classification (Green jersey): Mohd Harrif Salleh (Terengganu 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): Mohd Zamri Salleh (Terengganu Cycling Team)

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Teams General Classification: Synergy Baku Cycling Project


*Contrary to press releases issued by Jelajah Malaysia today, Loh is not the first Malaysian to win a UCI AsiaTour race. There are two recorded UCI AsiaTour victories by Malaysian riders prior to Loh s win today:
2007: 04 05.08.2007 Melaka Chief Minister Cup (UCI2.2) | Mohd Rauf Nur Misbah
2009: 28 30.07.2009 Perlis Open (UCI2.2) | Anuar Manan

Additonally, following discussion on Twitter about Jelajah Malaysia s history, an overview of its ranking and location on the racing calendar from 1997 2013 is below.

1997: 14-25 September (a.k.a Tour of Malaysia, 2.5) 1998: 02-13 August (a.k.a Tour of Malaysia, 2.5) 1999: 03-10 November (2.5) 2000: 05-12 November (2.6) 2001: 22-31 October (2.6)

2002: 22-31 October (2.6) [Note: 1st Gamuda Eagle Tour of Malaysia also held in 14-18 August, 2.6]
2003: 06-15 October (2.6) [Note: 2nd Eagle Tour of Malaysia cancelled due to SARS outbreak]
2004: not on UCI calendar

2005: not on UCI calendar 2006: cancelled (scheduled 15-19 November, UCI2.2 ranked) 2007: 06-12 January (2.2, AsiaTour) 2008: 07-13 January (2.2, AsiaTour) 2009: 19-26 April (2.2, AsiaTour) 2010: 27 April 01 May (2.2, AsiaTour) 2011: 08-13 March (2.2, AsiaTour) 2012: 08-13 May (2.2, AsiaTour)

2013: 26-30 June (2.2, AsiaTour) [50th Edition]



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