By Greg Johnson in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Indonesian cyclist Samai became just the fifth Asian cyclist to win a Tour de Langkawi stage today. The Team Letua rider pulled an upset victory over race leader Mattia Gavazzi (Diquigiovanni-Androni).
The little-known rider was short but exuded confidence after his big victory. "I think that this is the best day for me in the Tour of Langkawi this year," he said. "I've been here for one month training, so I wanted to prove that I'm the best in Asia here today."
Today's victory isn't Samai's only win on Malaysian soil. The 28-year-old won three stages of Jelajah Malaysia in 2003, but today's win is by far the biggest of his career.
Samai's narrow victory earned the rider praise from rival team boss Gianni Savio. While Samai prevented Savio's rider from claiming four consecutive stage wins, the Diquigiovanni-Androni manager said it was a great day for Asian cycling.
"Many compliments to the winner," said Savio. "I think it is a happy day for Asia sport and for Asia cycling that one Asian rider won one stage of one of the most important races in Asia's UCI calendar."
Samai isn't going to rest on his laurels, however, with the rider already looking towards Saturday's penultimate stage.
"This is not a route for a sprinter today, but I proved that for a little team I'm the best in Asia," he said. "I don't have confidence for Genting but I'll try to do it for stage six."
In addition to his Malaysian success, Samai has won three stages of the Tour of East Java in his homeland and also claimed a victory at the Tour of Sunraysia in Australia five years ago. At the Cape Town B Track World Championships in 2007 Samai claimed the one kilometre track world title.
"This is the best day for me, I've proved that an Asian can win a stage at the Tour of Langkawi," he said.
"Tomorrow is for Jeremy Yates, Tonton Susanto and Yong Li Ng to do the work. We'll try to prove that Tonton can take the blue jersey. I'm betting that Tonton will win the blue jersey."
Samai currently holds the blue Best Asian Rider jersey heading into tomorrow's tough stage to Genting Highlands.