Proving to be one of the strongest teams at the Tour de Langkawi is MTN-Qhubeka who with three riders in the top-15 present a real threat to claim the overall individual victory. The South African team has an almost unassailable lead in the team classification but it's Sergio Pardilla's third-place on GC, currently 2:10 off the yellow jersey, they are looking to protect in the coming days.
The newly registered Pro-Continental team has flown somewhat under the radar at Langkawi but after strong showings atop Cameron Highlands and again at Genting, the South African team is arguably showing up some of the larger ProTeams in the race.
Both Orica GreenEdge and Garmin Sharp have achieved better stage results since the race began and Blanco and Astana have both won stages but MTN-Qhubeka has generally been right there and not just one with one or two riders. The team has three riders inside the top-15 with Tsabu Grmay in 9th and Jacques Van Rensburg in 14th. In fact, the entire team is placed on the front page of the results sheet.
"We are leading [team GC] with nine minutes, it's nice for us," Van Rensburg told Cyclingnews prior to Stage 7.
"We wanted to get a result on a stage rather than have three guys in the top-ten or whatever but we are quite satisfied with our GC individually and the team. We are definitely aiming to keep the team GC now.
The team isn't content to just sit back and let others do the work. They have remained attentive and when a dangerous break formed with Pierre Rolland (Europcar) during the demanding conditions on Stage 6, they came to the front to assist with the chase.
"Pierre Rolland was in the breakaway so we had to help the Nippo guys close the gap," said Van Rensburg.
"I think they tested them [Nippo] yesterday and when big splits go with like 10 or 15 guys they are not strong enough to control it or bring it back. That's why we actually had to help them in the last 30k yesterday. If it's the same conditions it will be hard for the next four days for us as well.
"We rode quite hard for the last 30k's, the whole race was quite hard. At the finish we knew we were going to be at the rear of the peloton, luckily we didn't lose too much time and we still have our podium place on GC. That's our main goal," he said.
Going to work at the head of the peloton meant Van Rensburg lost time at the end of the stage but he wasn't concerned with losing a few seconds, it's Pardilla and Grmay who have the best chance of winning the race overall but it won't be an easy feat."
"Sergio is third on GC and Tsgabu is sixth, I was 14th and with the rain it got quite strung out in the last 3k with slippery roads. There were a few splits in the group, Sergio is still in third place but Tsgabu dropped down, I think he lost 10 (19) seconds or something," Van Rensburg told Cyclingnews.
Taking back more than two minutes may seem like an impossible task but if the right situation presents itself the MTN-Qhubeka team plan to be in the action. There are plenty of teams and riders still in with a chance of a high finish in the general classification but Van Rensburg says they will be doing whatever they can before the tour's in three days time.
"We are going to have guys in the break, who are on GC, so we don't have to do any work but it's tricky. There are so many guys from fourth to 13th, 14th is only a minute apart. There are so many guys who can move up on GC so it's a bit crazy at the moment.
"We have to put either Sergio or Tsgabu in the break and then something could happen. We've written down the numbers of who to watch so when an important move like that goes they have to be there."
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