With 30km left in stage 3 of the Tour de Langkawi, Harry Sweeny knew the breakaway was going to survive and hold off the sprint teams in Kuala Terengganu. The 19-year-old on Mitchelon-BikeExchange would have a one in four chance of winning the stage but the Australian's goal was to take as much time as possible on the chasing peloton.
Breakaway wins are rare in the 2.HC Malaysian race that has traditionally been a feast for the sprinters. With no categorised climbs on the menu from Kota Bharu along the coast to Kuala Terengganu, the third sprint in as many days looked the likely outcome. Sweeny and stage winner Adam De Vos (Rally) though had different plans and willed the break over the line. Sweeny eventually placing fourth but taking his best result to date in the pro ranks
"It was really good. I was really feeling a breakaway today and it was a real nice long day for us," Sweeny told Cyclingnews after cooling down under the spray of the fire hoses at the finish line.
In the closing kilometres of the stage, De Vos jumped away from Sweeney, Daeyeon Kim (KSPO) and Nik Mohd Hazwan Zulkiflie (Forca Amskins) to finish 13 seconds clear of the trio. The peloton crossed the line 1:19 minutes after the Canadian. The result moves Sweeny from 52nd overall into third place and the jump up the standings was the rationale for pushing the break all the way to the line as he explained.
"We tried to trick the peloton a little bit and just keep it easy the first 100 kay," he said of the break that enjoyed a maximum lead of seven minutes. "Then we just really ripped it home. I wasn't so much worried about the stage win but the tour overall. That is why I was putting in a lot of effort on the front, purely getting extra time. I am pretty happy."
Sitting in fourth almost one minute ahead of Riccardo Minali (Astana) on GC, Sweeny is well placed in the battle for the final podium. A former junior Australian time trial champion, Sweeny is a second-year U23 rider but with the Mitchelton-BikeExchange is able to race such events as the Tour de Langkawi. His first at 2.HC level.
With stage 4 of the race expected to suit the sprinters, Sweeny's GC aspirations will come down to the climb up Cameron Highlands on stage 5. Before the main course comes an "easy day" in the saddle for Sweeny.
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