One of the most exciting neo-pros to enter the scene in 2011, Jonathan Monsalve, has made a stunning impression on his first race with Androni Giocattoli, the Tour de Langkawi, and looks poised to contest for overall honours
At the halfway point in this year's edition of Malaysia's biggest bike race, Monsalve sits just two seconds behind overall leader Libardo Nino Corredor (Le Tua Cycling Team), the 43-year-old Colombian finishing second to his 21-year-old rival on the climb of Genting Highlands.
Monsalve won atop the event's highest finish following some solid work by teammate Emanuele Sella at the base of the final climb, which generally decides the overall winner of the 2.HC-ranked race.
"I would like to thank my whole team; the masseurs, mechanics and everyone who has helped me, especially Emanuele Sella on the climb; he did a great job for me," said Monsalve after the stage.
Monsalve is the latest of experienced team manager Gianni Savio's revelations, with the likes of 2010 Langkawi champion and countryman Jose Rujano and '09 winner Jose Serpa just two of the climbers Savio has uncovered.
And Monsavle recognised the man who gave him the chance to shine on a misty mountaintop in Malaysia. "I would like to thank Gianni Savio who gave me the confidence to do well today. He told me I could win the race and I did it," he added.
With five stages remaining - most of which don't suit the Venezuelan's strengths, however - Monsalve is remaining upbeat about his chances of securing the title but knows the task ahead.
"I will have to speak to Gianni Savio to see what we will do. There are five remaining stages with time bonus sprints. I hope to make it, but we'll see," he said.