Team Mtn-Qhubeka’s Jacques Janse van Rensburg was chomping at the bit to tackle the sixth stage of the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia on Wednesday, but luck was not on his side on the day.
ÔÇ£The climb ending this stage up to Genting Highlands ascends 1 679 metres and is a brutal stretch of tortuous tar,ÔÇØ said team manager Kevin Campbell. ÔÇ£Non-climbers only want to survive this stage, while experienced climbers hope and pray for good legs when they have to tackle a monster mountain pass such as this one.ÔÇØ
For the first 75 kilometres of the route, the terrain was much the same as previous stages of the TdL. At about 75km into stage six, the route begins to climb upwards in densely forested hills. ÔÇ£Riders knew what was ahead and started scrambling for positions near the front of the peloton on the narrower valley roads,ÔÇØ says Campbell. ÔÇ£It was at this point that a rider rode into the rear of Janse van Rensburg’s bike, breaking his rear wheel.ÔÇØ
As Janse van Rensburg was considered a key rider for the team on this mountain stage, his MTN-Qhubeka teammate Meron Russom quickly slipped his rear wheel into Janse van Rensburg’s bike, in a display of teamwork and selflessness, and waited for a spare to arrive for his own bike.
ÔÇ£This left Russom last man on the road with not even the race following convoy for company, and Janse van Rensburg with plenty of work to do to catch up to the leading riders,ÔÇØ says Campbell.
As he rejoined the rapidly shrinking front peloton, disaster struck. ÔÇ£It seems the earlier crash had damaged his frame and the rear derailleur snapped off the frame leaving him standing helplessly in the road,ÔÇØ Campbell explains. ÔÇ£Team mechanic Morn├® was soon on hand to give him a spare team Trek bicycle, but now Janse van Rensburg’s difficult task was just about impossible.ÔÇØ
Meanwhile, the riders ahead had begun the climb. ÔÇ£The Colombians and Venezuelans on the Androni Giocattoli team were mercilessly attacking up the climb. This left only a select few climbers in the race, among them Dennis Van Niekerk and Jani Tewelde of the MTN-Qhubeka team,ÔÇØ says Campbell. ÔÇ£Eventually Jose Serpa would win the stage, 2sec ahead of Victor Nino Corridor riding for the Azad University team, the two Colombians finishing 46sec ahead of Serpa’s teammate Jose Rujano.ÔÇØ
Despite the misfortunes suffered, all was not lost for MTN-Qhubeka. Van Niekerk fought bravely to finish 10th on the stage with Jani Tewelde in 20th position.
ÔÇ£Janse Van Rensburg battled bravely climbing through the field to finish 27th alongside teammate Adrien Niyonshuti, who finished in 28th placeÔÇØ says Campbell. ÔÇ£A sad tale of what might have been for the MTN-Qhubeka team still saw them finish as third best team on the stage. Van Niekerk has moved into ninth place overall on the general classification with Tewelde 18th overall. Despite his misfortune, Janse van Rensburg still maintains a top 30 position in 25th place.ÔÇØ
Putting the tough day aside, the team will focus on the next stage ÔÇô the longest of the tour at 200km ÔÇô which starts at Bentong and ends at Kuantan.