MUAR – Italian rider, Manuel Belletti of Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec finally ended his barren run for two years by securing victory in stage seven in the 2018 Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) cycling race from the National Velodrome in Nilai to Dataran Tanjung Emas, here, today.
The 32-year-old rider who just recuperated from major injuries he sustained earlier this year, displayed a blistering ride by brushing aside stiff competition towards the finishing line from Albanian rider, Eugert Zhupa of Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia and Kazakhstani rider, Ruslan Tleubayev of Astana Pro Team in today’s race, covering the longest distance at 222.4km.
All three of them, however, clocked the same time of 5 hours 08 minutes and 23 seconds in the gruelling stage, featuring three sprint zones and also six climbing zones.
Russian rider, Artem Ovechkin of Terengganu Cycling Team (TSG) who finished in ninth place in today’s race, still held on to the Yellow Jersey as overall leader besides retaining the Red Polka Dot Jersey by accumulating an overall time of 28’56:20 seconds and 40 points.
Italian rider, Riccardo Minali of Astana Pro Team,on the other hand, stayed on course to win the Green Jersey as King of Sprint by collecting 55 points with one stage left remaining.
Kazakhstan rider, Yevgeniy Gidich of Astana Pro Team is also on the verge of winning the White Jersey as Best Asian Rider by amassing a total time of 28 hours 57 minutes and 22 seconds after the conclusion of stage seven, today.
Speaking afterwards, Belletti revealed that today’s victory meant a lot to him, having suffered a major injury during the Vuelta a San Juan Internacional cycling competition in Argentina, last January which saw him fracture three ribs and also a broken collarbone.
The last time Belletti claimed a podium finish was in 2016 which saw he finish in second place in stage two of the Tour du Poitou Charentes cycling competition in France.
“Today’s race was tough whereby the riders had to face six challenging climbing zones besides the longest route, but I’m glad to pull off the victory,” Belletti said via an interpreter.
“This victory was huge for me after I was involved in a crash during the competition in Argentina, earlier this year which saw me out of competition for almost two months and I want to dedicate this victory to all of my teammates who worked very hard today,” he added.
The final stage of the 2018 LTdL, tomorrow involves a distance of 141.1km from Dataran Rembau to Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur, featuring three sprint zones in Seremban besides two loops around Kuala Lumpur and also three climbing zones, in Mantin, Sungai Tekali and Look Out Point. – BERNAMA