BikeNZ PureBlack Racing is proving to be a dominant force in the Tour of Borneo. The team delivered the ultimate start to the tour with Michael Torckler, Roman van Uden and Louis Crosby taking all three podium spots in an unprecedented 'blackwash' in the opening 102.8km stage from Semporna to Tawau.
After making a break at 30km, Torkler guaranteed himself the yellow jersey with a powerful solo ride with 15km to go. Crosby and van Uden led the bunch in a sprint finish to secure 2nd and 3rd respectively to give the team the yellow and orange jerseys going into stage two.
Director Sportif of BikeNZ PureBlack Racing, John Harris, said the team rode perfectly on the first day of the tour giving the team the top result they have been searching for after two-and-a-half months racing in Asia.
"Everyone had their part to play and it was an outstanding ride by the whole team," he said.
After the grueling second stage, 146.6km from Tawau to Lahad Datu with large hill climbs, Torkler remains in the leader's yellow jersey after securing a third place finish.
Torkler said, "The past two days have been amazing. To finish with a one-two-three was just fantastic and it's certainly not happened in any of the teams I've been in before."
"On the first day I didn't expect the breakaway to stick but we managed to build a lead. When there was the opportunity to attack, and I got away solo, it was a great felling knowing that the two riders behind me were team mates. The second stage was really tough but another great day of racing. The team is really giving it everything and we're really focused on getting a good result."
Meantime, Anthony Giacoppo claimed Genesys Wealth Advisers’ second consecutive stage victory on stage three, following Nathan Earle’s win on stage two.
Giacoppo, who had already won two stages in the Tour of Taiwan last month, beat Terengganu Cycling Team's Harrif Salleh in the bunch sprint, while Suren Uzbekistan Team's Azamat Turaev, the mountains classification leader, finished third.
New Zealand's Michael Torckler, the winner of Stage One, held on to the yellow jersey as the overall leader of the race and the Orange jersey as the points classification leader with two stages to go.
Stage Three covered a 181.8km route from Lahad Datu to Sandakan and right from the start there was a four-man breakaway comprising Kazakhstan's Nikolay Zaitsev, CCN Cycling Team's Fito Bakdo Prilanji, 7-Eleven by Road Bike Philippines' Mark John Lexer Galedo and Team Plan B's Luke Joyce.
The four escapees began their journey about four km into the stage and opened up a gap of more than six minutes at one point but they were caught with 20km to go.
The Genesys Wealth Advisers team managed to put Giacoppo in a commanding position for the win and despite Harrif's gallant efforts, there was simply no catching the 26-year old Australian.
"In the beginning this win looked like it wasn't going to happen because the breakaway made quite a big gap. The team worked hard and when it came to the sprint I was in a good position to go for it. I'm happy with it and tomorrow it is a stage in the mountains. We don't know what to expect but we are going to try and take the yellow jersey. We'll see how it goes," said Giacoppo.
Torckler said he will be trying to defend the yellow jersey with his team when they head to the gruelling 214.8km stage from Sepilok to Kundasang tomorrow.
"Tomorrow will also be about who has had the best recovery over the past three days to be in good shape for the climb, so it might not necessarily be a climber who wins," said Torckler.