Sunday, March 13, 2011

Jelajah Tour: Stage 5

The organizers wanted to make stage 5 as difficult as possible. After stage 4's late finish we had a 1hr transfer to the next hotel. Then on the morning of stage 5, we had another transfer to the start. To cap it all off it was by far the longest stage with 221km plus 9km of neutral. 

My cold had worsened and to be honest, I was a little concerned I may not go the distance. After the Earthquake in Japan, there was also a Tsunami warning for the area and there was a lot of conjecture as to whether or not the stage would be changed as a result. It wasn't.

There were the usual attacks in the opening km's but my legs felt fine as we chased them down. Three riders broke clear and opened up a gap that hit 5min at one point. Terengganu sat on the front at an easy pace to bring them back. The plan was to catch them just before the finish for another bunch sprint. But they caught them too early!

With 60km still remaining the counter attacks came. Small groups broke off the front as riders were clearly getting tired. Mart broke clear with a group and was well positioned to move up in gc if it succeeded. 

Many riders tried to bridge a gap of around 30sec to the break and Jaan was successful. Eventually, the group contained 34 riders and the yellow jersey rider was not one of them!!

Being Malaysian, the yellow jersey rider had the support of every other Malaysian in the race. They all moved to the front of the chase group to bring back the break. But they did not work well together. One rider would take a huge powerful turn but it would only tire those behind him so they could not find a rhythm. I sat in around 5th wheel and constantly slowed down their efforts so that the break would gain more time. 

With 10km to go, it was clear that we were not going to catch them. Meanwhile at the front, Jann had broken away with another rider and was flying towards the line. He looked like he was going to make it but with only 200m to go, was swallowed up by the peleton and a rider from LeTua took the win and the yellow jersey. Mart moved up to 3rd overall but was tied with one other rider so tomorrows final stage was going to be vital. 

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