Photos: PETRONAS Tour de Langkawi
Sprinter Sasha Weemaes scored a sensational victory on stage 7 of Le Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia, timing his effort to perfection to win at the end of the 124km flat stage from Muar to Seremban.
Referring to the three podium finishes prior to today’s victory, “never give up,” were the 25-year-old’s first words to the TV camera immediately after he crossed the finish line, beating out Arvid de Kleijn (Tudor Pro Cycling Team) and Gleb Syritsa (Astana Qazaqstan Team) on a bike throw.
“It was amazing,” Weemaes exclaimed after his first professional victory. “Like the feeling that a rock has fallen off of my shoulders. Finally that victory.”
— Human Powered Health Cycling (@hphcycling) September 29, 2023
After Benjamin Perry, Adam de Vos and Gijs Van Hoecke delivered him to the final kilometer, Weemaes came off the wheels at the perfect moment, benefiting from a slight uphill drag and throwing his bike over the line to win on a photo finish.
“I knew there was an uphill finish, so I needed to come from out of the wheels after taking the slipstream. The perfect timing was important,” he explained. “I was able to come with more speed at the right moment.”
Weemaes has been on form in Malaysia but a win had eluded him. He did not let this affect his mindset.
“My only goal was winning and I was really close each day. I couldn’t be happy with only second and third. That was my motivation to go one better.”Racing in humid 95-degree conditions has also provided its own unique challenges and Weemaes was quick to praise his teammates.
“The boys did a perfect job again to put me on the good wheel,” he added. “Also, just in the race, pulling me over the climbs and getting drinks and food is so important.”
“This is a great feeling for all of us,” said Luuc Bugter, Team Director. “The team really deserves this win after the hard period we’ve been in and everyone is giving 110% to make it happen. One more stage to go at this adventurous race,” he added.
That final flat stage finishes tomorrow in the nation’s capital, Kuala Lumpur. The team has accumulated six top-six finishes with Weemaes sitting second in the points standings and climber Paul Double sixth on the general classification.
Le Tour de Langkawi stage six results
1 WEEMAES Sasha – Human Powered Health 2:31:45
2 DE KLEIJN Arvid – Tudor Pro Cycling Team ”
3 SYRITSA Gleb – Astana Qazaqstan Team ”
4 BOSTOCK Matthew – Bolton Equities Black Spoke ”
5 VIVIANI Attilio – Team Corratec – Selle Italia ”
6 KREDER Raymond – JCL Team UKYO ”
7 REGUIGUI Youcef – Terengganu Polygon Cycling Team ”
8 ZANONCELLO Enrico – Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Fiazanè ”
9 ZIJLAARD Maikel – Tudor Pro Cycling Team ”
10 BOGDANOVICS Maris – Hengxiang Cycling Team ”
Le Tour de Langkawi points standings after six stages
1 DE KLEIJN Arvid – Tudor Pro Cycling Team 63 points
2 WEEMAES Sasha – Human Powered Health 48
3 SYRITSA Gleb – Astana Qazaqstan Team 43
4 ZANONCELLO Enrico – Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Fiazanè 41
5 JACKSON George – Bolton Equities Black Spoke 29