Several riders came down in the final kilometre of the stage when the road took a sharp turn to the left, around 300 metres before the finish line. Race leader Mirsamad Pourseyedi Golakhour was one of the riders caught up in it, although he was unhurt. The Iranian didn’t lose any time, as the crash happened in the final three kilometres and he remains in the overall lead.
Guardini was involved in the crash on stage two that left him with a hole in his left foot, but he managed to avoid a tumble on stage eight, as he was at the front. The Astana rider said that he expected something to happen. “I don’t know (about the crash), because I was in front, but it is normal. It is a really, really dangerous finish. I talked with the organisation to check this, because 200km straight and one curve at 300 metres is too dangerous,” Guardini said to Cyclingnews at the finish.
The Italian would like to see the finish gone from the race completely, but thinks a change to it may be a more viable option. “I want to see this (finish removed), but maybe 3 or 400 metres after is better.” This is the first time that the Marang finish has featured at the Tour de Langkawi and if Guardini had his way, it would not return in 2015. The finishes of the remaining two stages should prove a little less complicated to negotiate with a straight run-in of around a kilometre on each day.
Guardini finished second in the sprint finish on stage 8 behind Belkin’s Theo Bos, who claimed his third victory of the race. Guardini outpaced the Dutch rider earlier in the week but said that Bos was just too fast for him in Merang on Thursday. “I tried to make the sprint before the left turn, to take position and pass Theo, but he was too strong. It’s (Belkin) a big team and they do really good work every day and for this finish, it is normal that when you have a really strong team, it is easier to win.
Earlier in the week, Guardini took his first victory of the season, a result which seems to have some of the pressure off his shoulders. However, he kicked off last year with a similar win, and it turned out to be his only victory of the season. With two more stages left, the Astana rider will hope that he doesn’t repeat 2013 and takes an extra stage. The Tour de Langkawi finishes in Kuala Terengganu on Saturday 8 March.
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