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Julian Moreno Arredondo (Nippo - De Rosa)
Climber leaves behind rivals on Genting Highlands
Recent history states that the rider who wins the atop Genting Highlands will win the overall at Le Tour de Langakwi and Julián Arredondo is the next rider charged to maintain this tradition. Arredondo blasted his way to victory at Genting after leaving behind an impressive group of climbers in the final kilometres of the 19km ascent and with it, took over the race lead.
The gruelling climb up Genting is the one truly decisive stage at Langkawi and while the races finishes next to the location of the world's largest hotel, the climb which reaches nearly 1,700m is no holiday.
The majority of the riders fighting for the general classification crossed the line with contorted expressions but for Arredondo's it was nothing but elation as he claimed his biggest win to date and now looks set to become the fourth Colombian to win the race.
"We are an Asian team and to win the most beautiful stage in Langkawi and be the leader for the overall, for us, it's incredible. It is like a dream come true," said Arredondo after the stage.
"When I attack, it's very hard for someone to go with me," he added.
"This is my first race for this year and it feels good after I had a bit of trouble last season trying to get a visa to go to Italy - because I'm Colombian," he told Cyclingnews.
Arredondo, while unknown to most of the ProTeam and Pro-Continental field is not an unknown quantity within the Asia circuit. The 24-year-old signed with Team Nippo - De Rosa in 2012 and took his first professional victory at Tour of Japan, backing up with second-overall at both Japan and Tour de Kumano.
Before signing with Nippo the stocky climber was a constant feature in the under-23 Italian ranks picking up a number of promising results at UCI 1.2 races such as GP Capodarco in 2011, where he sprinted to sixth-place in a select group that contained Moreno Moser (Cannondale) - who won Tour of Poland in 2012.
"I've won quite a lot of races. I rode in Italy for an Italian amateur team SCAP Foresi Prefabriscati for four years before joining Nippo - De Rosa in 2012. I got second at the Tour of Japan [in 2012], second at Kumano and got fourth at the Japan Cup.
There is still five stages remaining before Arredondo is crowned the overall winner but his lead will be difficult to overcome with no more selective stages remaining. The new race leader has 1:22 over his nearest rival Pieter Weening (Orica GreenEdge) and third-place Victor Nino Corrredor (RTS Racing) is more than two minutes behind. He's also got a team capable of controlling the stage for the GC.
"The team is very strong, everybody can help me to control the race until the final stage. We hope to get the overall at the end," he told Cyclingnews.
"We have Shinichi [Fukushima] and [Fortunato] Baliani - who is normally for the climbs but he is always good on the flat too. We have some young riders who are very motivated to work for the next five stages. Plus, there's also the sprinter's teams that will want to control the coming stages.
"It won't be easy but we will try and keep the overall," he added.
His small team may have seemed like an unlikely chance against the professional teams like Orica GreenEdge, Garmin Sharp and MTN Qhubeka but he showed again today that he means business, summing up with a closing line.
"No body knows me but I think in the future plenty will know the name Arredondo."