As the Tour de Langkawi heads into the highlands over the next two days, the minor classifications are heating up as the major one looks to change hands. Italian Andrea Guardini (Farnese Vini-Neri Sottoli) is expected to relinquish his yellow jersey as leader of the Tour but it is the points classification that is the big talking point.
At the end of stage three, Guardini holds the blue points jersey with 51 points, equal with last year’s winner Anuar Manan (Terengganu ProAsia Cycling Team). Both riders have made no secret of the fact that they are gunning for the jersey, so a two-way battle is expected for the rest of the race.
Guardini has shown he has the speed by winning the first two stages, but Manan has gradually closed in with a third place yesterday and a second today. Despite this, Guardini is hopeful of holding the jersey all the way to Kuala Lumpur.
“Two mountain stages in a row means we will have to fight hard for the blue jersey,” said Guardini. “It’s not an easy thing to do with the climbs but I will try to contest the intermediate sprints and perhaps try to make the break tomorrow to give myself the best chance of keeping the jersey.
“It will be impossible to keep the yellow jersey tomorrow but I hope to keep the blue jersey with my team, Farnese Vini, until Kuala Lumpur,” said Guardini.
The king of the mountains classification is close with Mehdi Sohrabi (Tabriz Petrochemical Team) and leader since stage one, Koen de Kort (Skil Shimano) equal at six points. De Kort admitted that a tactical error on the climb today may have hampered his chances of keeping the jersey after tomorrow.
“The tactic was for the team to lead on the climb and then lead-out the sprint as I was told the climb wasn’t too hard,” said De Kort. “That’s what we did but it went wrong. I got on the front too early and the peloton passed me with massive speed and I couldn’t keep the wheel, so it was an error on my end.
“I like this jersey and would like to keep it as long as possible so we will defend it on the coming stages."
Anuar Manan is expected to surrender the white jersey for the best Asian rider tomorrow as the race enters the mountains.