Three appears to be the lucky number for UnitedHealthcare sprinter John Murphy, who took his second win of the season Friday in Malaysia at the Tour de Langkawi. Murphy’s first win of the season also came during a third stage earlier this month at the Herald Sun Tour in Australia.
Murphy moved from back-to-back top-five finishes in the first two stages to the podium’s stop step on Friday thanks to some crucial work by his team and some alert tactical riding by his lead-out train on the finishing straight.
"The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team boys rode an awesome race, keeping me protected all day," an elated Murphy said at the finish. "In the final kilometers, I was perfectly placed into the final corner. Great work by the team and especially Tanner Putt starting the lead out. I love winning with these guys."
While the sprint trains of the other teams, including Astana and Tinkoff, stayed in the centre of the road in the finishing straight, the UnitedHealthcare riders moved to the far right of the road, protecting themselves from the wind blowing across the peloton. The move gave Murphy a clear shot at the line, unobstructed by competitors.
Putt initiated the UnitedHealthcare lead-out that would set up Murphy for the win and made the critical decision to take the far right line at the finish. Team director Hendrik Redant said he was happy to see the team put together a confident ride to deliver on stage 3.
"The boys knew what they needed to do to get across the line first, and they proved to themselves and the other teams that they can win here," Redant said. "I'm happy that the team is riding so strongly together, and we are looking forward to the coming day's of racing."
After three stages for the sprinters, Saturday’s Tour de Langkawi stage will provide a first chance for the climber’s to take centre stage as the race makes it’s way toward the mountains and the Cameron Highlands climb.