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Jacques & Co improve

South African Jacques Janse van Rensburg moved up to 15th spot on the General Classification (GC) standings at the Tour of Langkawi in Malaysia on Tuesday, writes Mark Etheridge.

On a good day for MTN-Qhubeka,  the South African based outfit moved up from fourth to eighth spot in the team competition.

Also moving up the GC was Janse van Rensburg’s team-mate and fellow South African Dennis van Niekerk. He is now 21st after the 187.2-kilometre stage from Ayer Keroh to Pandan Indah.

“We were in the front group today,” Van Niekerk told Road to London 2012. “Tomorrow is going to be a really important day for Jacques and I and we are both really good climbers. The climb to Genting Highlands is 25km long and starts at about 200m and finishes at 1690m above sea level.”

MTN’s Rwandan rider, Adrien Niyonshuti put the disappointment of a puncture on Sunday behind him to be 20th position overall on Tuesday. His team-mate Jani Tewelde was best of the team in eighth spot.

Once again riders had to contend with stifling heat and humidity. “But the riders had no time to think about much except staying in touch with the race as the the relentless pace spat a few weaker riders out the back of the strung out┬ápeleton without mercy,” said MTN team manager David Campbell after the day’s racing.

“Any weakened legs soon found themselves in even more trouble as the road turned upwards towards the first 2nd category climb of the tour. All six of our riders were able to sit comfortably in the leading group while race leader David Zabriski of the Garmin Barracuda team soon found himself in trouble slipping out of contention.”

Zabriskie went on to finish last but one on the stage, a huge 19min 35sec behind stage winner Jose Serpa of Colombia. “A few more riders had to bid the leading group adieu on the second twisting climb. The descent twisted and turned even more and riders with tired legs had no time to relax as they bobbed and weaved their way though the winding forested roads.”

The final climb on the stage summited just 10km from the end of the stage, making for some exciting racing to the line. “Incredibly it was renowned climber Serpa on the Androni Giocattoli team who managed to slip away on the descent after the climb and he clung onto an 11sec lead.”

The MTN-Qhubeka team now lie fourth in the team competition, exactly two minutes behind leaders Androni Giacattoli.

Looking ahead and Wednesday’s stage is a crucial one. “Wednesday’s stage six might look short on paper, but this 108km route finishes atop of the daunting Genting Highlands. To date the highest peak in this tour has only crested 500m above sea level while Genting tops out at a lung-tearing 1679m. Potentially this stage is the tour decider. Jacques and Dennis┬á have been eagerly awaiting this stage all week.”


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