By Ben Abrahams in Kepala Batas, Malaysia
Frenchman Matthieu Sprick claimed his second and biggest professional victory of his four-year career when he won stage one of the Tour de Langkawi after a bold move near the end of a long day in the lead break, which gained over 20 minutes on the rest of the peloton.
Sprick joined a 19-man breakaway just 15 kilometers into the stage. With three kilometers to go, Sprick escaped off the front of the break in a surprise move that caught the other riders napping. The Frenchman was left with plenty of time to celebrate on the finishing stretch.
"The first ProTour round [referring to the Tour Down Under - ed.] has already taken place," said Sprick after his win, "but the ProTour for me will start a bit later. I want to profit from the good condition I have at the Tour de Langkawi. It's very nice so far." The two-time Tour de France racer added that he was "surprised" by his good condition.
Australian Mitchell Docker (Drapac Porsche) and Best Asian Rider was perennial attacker Shinichi Fukushima (Meitan Hompo - GDR) joined Sprick on the podium after day one.
The substantial time gap achieved by the break on stage one means that probably no more than 19 riders will contest for the GC during the remainder of the race. If there are no other successful extended breakaways, stage eight's summit finish to Bukit Fraser could be the only other stage capable of a major shake up within the general classification.