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SA team start well
- Updated: February 24, 2012
By Mark Etheridge
Team MTN-Qhubeka got their Tour of Langkawi cycle race off to a good start in Malaysia on Friday at the opening day’s time trial.
The African team is made up of three Eritreans, a South African based Rwandan and two South Africans.
Best of the team’s riders during the 20.3 kilometre time trial in Putrajaya was Eritrean Meron Russom who finished 24th, 2min 23sec down on American winner David Zabriskie of the Garmin-Barracuda team (24:34).
Right on Russom’s wheel was team-mate Jacques Janse van Rensburg, a second slower. Then came Eritrea’s Jani Tewelde and the second South African, Dennis van Niekerk, respectively a further seven and 13 seconds behind in 30th and 33rd spots.
“All the riders on the MTN-Qhubeka Team are in good health and as none are specialist time trialists we knew┬áthat our race was to position ourselves well against the other rated climbers as we expect this tour General Classification (GC) to be decided on Stage Six up Genting,” team manager Kevin Campbell told Road to London 2012 on Friday.
“Today’s stage looked like it was going to be wet when we woke up with a lot of thunder in the air, but after about an hour in the car as we all drove to the start in Putrajaya only the humidity hung thick as the sun heated the day.”
Already Campbell as identified an early threat after the first time trial. “Renowned climber Jose Rujano Guillenfrom┬áTeam Androni Giacatolli rode incredibly well to finish in fifth position only 1:27 behind stage winner Zabriski. He is definitely a┬ámajor threat on GC and we will have our work cut out┬áto gain back time on him.”
But Campbell remains confident. “Jacques and Dennis, however, looked really good┬áon the road today. Tthis fast, flat┬áTT course was never going to suit them but they still both put in credible performances.”
Saturday’s second stage is a 151km ride from Putrajaya to Melaka. The 10-stage tour ends in Kuala Terengganu on 4 March.