By Greg Johnson in Melaka, Malaysia
Mattia Gavazzi (Diquigiovanni-Androni) has won his second Tour of Langkawi stage but the Italian says it could be his final chance before the race finishes in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday, as his team looks to conserve energy. The Italian has claimed the first two stage wins at the Malaysian event, giving him a 10-second lead on general classification.
"Yes, we're here for stage wins," he said. "But logically we can only take the race day by day – it's a race with six riders, making it difficult to control. Today again I sincerely didn't expect to win and now I have two stage wins and the leader's jersey."
Gavazzi had the help of climbers Jackson Rodriguez and José Serpa to bring back today's two-man break, setting up the 25-year-old's sprint victory. The Venezuelan and Colombian riders will now need to save themselves for the race-deciding climb to Genting Highlands on Friday, where they are favoured to win the stage and potentially the general classification.
"In Genting I have some teammates who will go for the general classification, but the team will have to rest a little bit before that," said Gavazzi. "We can not allow ourselves to ride this way all the way to the finish, we will have to give some responsibility to the other teams."
It was a combination of hard work and luck that set up a sprint for Gavazzi, according to Diquigiovanni-Androni team manager Gianni Savio. The Italian was full of praise for the day's two breakaway teams who, he said, "made a good race.
"Today we worked like yesterday, very hard in the first part of the race. In the second part, at the finish, the other teams failed," said Savio.
Two of the team's riders were feeling ill on stage 2. Luca Celli was one of five riders to not finish in the main peloton, instead rolling across the line 8:12 minutes down.
The Tour of Langkawi continues Wednesday with the 186-kilometre stage from Melaka to Melaka. The stage is again expected to be one for the sprinters.