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Mekseb Debesay came first atop the Cameron Highlands at the Tour de Langkawi, beating Australia’s Cameron Bayly by the length of a bike while Ryan Gibbons retained the yellow jersey.
Cycling Central

Tour de Langkawi
26 Feb 2017 - 8:57 AM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2017 - 12:30 PM

“This is my first big victory”, Debesay said after the 174.4km stage from Seri Manjung to Cameron Highlands. “We rode together with my team-mates all day. The finale was quite hard but I followed some good riders and I outsprinted them.

“It was always my childhood dream in Africa to become a successful professional cyclist. It’s a dream come true now. I’ve been inspired by my compatriots Daniel Teklehaimanot and Natnael Berhane. They’re my heroes and I want to ride the Grand Tours like them in the same way I did today.”

Bayly of IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness moved up to second overall after finishing behind Debesay and ahead of a group of nine riders including race leader Gibbons.

“This is definitely a good result”, Bayly said. “I’m a little bit disappointed to get second and not to win, being so close, but at the end of the day I was just not quick enough for the sprint. There were quite a few attacks before.

“It’s good to be second on GC. We’ve got another four stages to go with a few of our riders in the top ten. We’ll try to shake things out, we’re not gonna leave it.”

Gibbons who expected to be in yellow for the last time saved his jersey and became the favourite for the overall classification with the potential to improve on his lead throughout the time bonuses in the upcoming sprint stages.

“I’m more shocked than you guys are to still lead the race”, he said.

“A group of guys rode away but my team-mates kept looking back and saw that I was coming across. Thankfully they didn’t put the pace on. They did a good job making sure that I was still up there. Jacques Janse van Rensburg brought me back to the front a few times. Nothing in my history proved that I could climb that well.

“This is new for me. I was not bluffing. It’s a surprise for me that I’ve been able to stay up there.”

Stage 5 from Meru Raya to Kuala Kubu Bahru, close to Kuala Lumpur, at a distance of 151.5km, should suit the sprinters.