South Africa’s national cycling team continued to stand out among some of the world’s leading riders when they put on another strong display during Stage 2 of the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia on Tuesday.
Young sprinters Nolan Hoffman and Christoff van Heerden finished second and fourth respectively on the 160.9km leg from Senawang to Melaka, giving South Africa a second successive podium appearance following Hoffman’s third place on Stage 1.
Italian sprinter Mattia Gavazzi of the Diquigionvanni-Androni team captured his second successive stage win and retained the race leader’s Yellow Jersey with Hoffman in second place overall, 10 seconds behind the Italian.
Waiting patiently for the race to reach the mountains later in the week is South African Under-23 champion, Jacques Janse van Rensburg, who is considered a dark horse to challenge for the final overall title in the seven-stage tour which is Asia’s biggest race.
He gave a glimpse of his good form on Tuesday when he rode powerfully across a gap on the only categorised climb of the stage to secure maximum points at the summit and take over the King of the Mountains jersey from compatriot Jaco Venter.
South Africa also retained their lead in the Team Classification.
“The guys rode really well again today. There were many attacks from the start as the climb came very early on the stage and everyone knew that first over would get enough points to lead that competition,” explained Barry Austin, South African team manager. “We tried to keep it together for Jaco to try and defend the jersey but it was messy and eventually Jacques rode off the front and got the points.
“At the finish, the whole team did well to get Nolan and Christoff to a good position for the sprint, but Nolan lost some ground on the very bumpy final corner which hampered our plans for Christoff to lead him out. But we’re getting there.”
With a third and a second, Hoffman is gagging for stage win and will fancy his chances on Wednesday’s 186km third stage which follows a largely flat, circular route that starts and finishes in Melaka.
“My legs were good but not good enough to beat Gavazzi. He’s just got something we don’t have in the final dash. Third yesterday, and second day, I’ve still got my eyes on the top of the podium for tomorrow,” Hoffman told cyclingnews.com