Andrea Palini, riding for Continental team Skydive Dubai, out-sprinted Astana’s Andrea Guardini in Georgetown, Malaysia after 158 kilometers of racing Thursday in Le Tour de Langkawi. Reinardt Janse van Rensburg (Dimension Data) was third in stage 2.
“I didn’t expect to win,” Palini said. “I was hoping for scoring points, but I didn’t think I could beat Guardini. However, I was fresher than him after the last climb. That made the difference. I’m very happy. To win here is very important. It already makes my Tour de Langkawi a successful one.”
A group of five attacked after 22km of racing, and they got a maximum advantage of around four minutes. Astana, however, wasn’t about to let them slip away. Though three escapees made it over the summit of Teluk Bahang, the day’s second of two categorized climbs, with 30km to go, it was all together with 11km remaining.
A crash in the finale kept China’s Wang Meiyin from seizing the yellow jersey. Though he had gained time in the break with intermediate sprints, he ended the day 11 seconds behind Guardini, who keeps the GC lead by two seconds. Palini moves up to second overall, ahead of Wang in third. “My main goal is the king of mountains jersey,” the Chinese rider explained. “That’s why I rode away again.”
“I said this morning again that it’s never simple to win,” Guardini added. “Palini showed today that he’s a more complete rider than me. He passed the hill better than me. I rode flat-out to stay with the main peloton, and it took out of me the energy I needed for winning the bunch sprint.”
Friday’s stage 3 offers another categorized climb late in the race, a 107.2km jaunt from Kulim to Kuala Sangar. The eight-day stage race finishes March 2.