Andrea Guardini of Astana claimed his 19th career stage victory at the Tour de Langkawi after winning the opener in a sprint.
Australia’s Brenton Jones from Drapac and Skydive Dubai’s Andrea Palini finished second and third behind the fast Italian.
Guardini will start Stage 2 in the overall lead but with an advantage of only two seconds over China’s Wang Meiyin (Hengxiang Cycling Team) who was the other top contender of the day.
Wang bridged to the early there-rider break of Adiq Hussainie Othman (Terengganu), Loh Sea Keong (Malaysia national team) and Meher Hasnaoui (Skydive Dubai).
Wang won the first two of three intermediate sprints ahead of Othman who claimed the third, securing third place overall on the general classification through time bonuses.
The maximum advantage held by the break was 6min 50sec, with Loh the last rider to be caught by the peloton, with ten kilometers of racing left.
"It’s always hard to win, especially when being the hot favourite," Guardini said.
"It’s also difficult to take control of the events. Everyone was waiting for my team to do it. Fortunately, Southeast collaborated with us to catch the breakaway.
"There were good riders at the front but a lot of head wind at the end. As a team we’ve done a good job but we’ve also lost one rider (Ruslan Tleubayev) who broke a collarbone in a crash.
"It’s nice to have the jersey but it’ll be even more difficult to control the race with one rider less."
"Le Tour de Langkawi isn’t a race like last year for me. I find some rivals who are new to me. I’ve already taken part in a lot of races [Dubai Tour, Tour of Qatar and Tour of Oman] before coming here but I hope to keep a good condition from now until the last stage."