PORT DICKSON – Tunisian rider Rafaa Chtioui of Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team today clinched the first stage of the 2014 Jelajah Malaysia (JM2014) which comprised a distance of 150.3km from Seremban 2 to Bandar Tentera Darat, here.
He crossed the line first, clocking three hours, 44 minutes and 51 seconds.
Besides being the stage winner, Rafaa also claimed the yellow jersey as the current overall leader and the green jersey as the sprint competition leader.
“I’m glad to win the race. The race was hard and the weather was really hot too. Just about 50km towards the finishing line, the race was more aggresive.
“The race was not easy today. You had to be hydrated and also to be in front every time,” said the 28-year-old, who is also Tunisia’s national road race and time trial champion last year.
He noted that with the yellow jersey with the team, it would be harder for the team to ensure that the jersey won’t slip away.
“Our team could have a different strategy for tomorrow to control the race,” said Rafaa.
The race in Jelajah Malaysia is not Rafaa’s first appearance as he had taken part in the race in 2009 with the Doha Cycling Team.
Meanwhile, Muhd Shaiful Anwar Azis (Azis) of Terengganu Cycling Team (TSG) emerged as the best Malaysian rider (white jersey) after finishing stage one in sixth placing.
He was just 0.06 seconds behind Hong Kong rider Ho Burr in the Asian Rider classification (blue jersey).
Stage Two tomorrow will be the second longest route in this year’s edition with a distance of 152.7km from Nilai to Bandar Seri Jempol.
The riders will first encounter a category 3 climb at Kampung Batu followed by two sprint zones at Dangi and Jempol. – BERNAMA