Tabriz Petrochemical’s Mirsamad Pourseyedi Golakhour won the Tour de Langkawi’s queen stage and with it the overall, but the race was dominated by a pair of king B’s: Belkin’s Theo Bos, who won four stages, and Synergy Baku’s Matt Brammeier, who was a fixture in the daily breakaways and claimed the king of the mountains jersey.
Truth be told, this wasn’t a great race this year. In other editions we’ve had a second mountain stage or an occasional time trial, but the 2014 parcours featured just one summit finish six days from the end, with every other stage being flat. However, as ever, there were still some interesting talking points.
For two years when he was racing with Farnese Vini, Andrea Guardini ruled the roost when it came to the sprint finishes which dominate this race. Five victories in 2011 were followed by six the following year. But since then the balance of power has shifted to Belkin and Theo Bos.
The Dutch sprinter won the opening two stages last year as his team nabbed three wins. This year, aided by a strong line-up including experienced lead-out man Graeme Brown, Jack Bobridge and Steven Kruijswijk, Bos and Belkin bagged four more with ease.
At 30 Bos, a multiple track world champion, continues to improve: four wins in 2010, five in 2011, seven in 2012 and 12 last year, including stages in the Eneco Tour and Criterium International. He seems to like the big Asian races too: he won six of the nine stages at October’s Tour of Hainan.
He has yet to crack the grand tours, though, having failed to make an impression at the 2012 Giro and recording just two ninth places at the 2010 Vuelta. He’s quick and intelligent and capable of mixing it towards the sharp end of WorldTour sprints, but he’s not quite in the Kittel/Cav/Greipel class and, given Belkin’s general preference for the more hilly and mountainous stuff, he’s never going to have full support in the biggest races. But watch him fly at his ‘home’ Eneco Tour, then in Beijing and the other big Asian races later in the season.
He now rides for the Azerbaijani team Synergy Baku, but Matt Brammeier has WorldTour pedigree, having previously ridden for both HTC-Highroad and Omega Pharma-Quick Step. However, despite having won the Irish national road race four times in a row, he has yet to win a pro race and his two years at the sport’s highest level yielded just three top ten finishes.
He spent last year with Chinese team Champion System, during which he increasingly specialised as a breakaway rider with a liking for the mountain competitions. That was in full evidence here as he monopolised the early KoM intermediates and defended the jersey all the way to the finish to win the first mountains classification of his career.
It may not be as glamorous as winning stages in WorldTour races, but a prominent ride and a jersey for an Asian team in one of the biggest Asian races isn’t a bad way for a solid all-rounder to earn a crust. Hard work, deservedly rewarded. Got to love that.
I haven’t mentioned race winner Mirsamad Pourseyedi Golakhour so far, and with good reason. We try not to focus too much on doping at VeloVoices – it’s not that we don’t acknowledge and condemn it (we do), but we prefer to focus on what we like about cycling, not what drags us down.
Here are the facts. The 28-year-old Iranian returned last summer from a two-year ban after an EPO positive at the 2011 Tour of Iran. He has competed in four Asia Tour races since his return, winning the 13-stage Tour of Qinghai Lake, then finishing second, first and now first here. He rides for a third division team and therefore falls outside the auspices of the UCI’s biological passport system.
It’s not my style to condemn a rider without hard evidence, but you can draw your own conclusions. Instead I choose to focus on the achievements of Bos and Brammeier. That makes me happy. Enough said.
Race at a glance
1 – Mirsamad Pourseyedi Golakhour‘s general classification win was the first by an Asian rider in the 19th edition of the race, and ended a run of five consecutive victories by South American riders.
4 – Stages won by Theo Bos, giving him a total of six in Malaysia.
8 – Matt Brammeier won each of the first eight king of the mountain sprints, but none of the subsequent 11. As a team, Synergy Baku won 11 of the 19 KoMs.
14 – Andrea Guardini won two stages this year, extending his record number of Langkawi stage wins to 14.
Stage 1: Winner – Duber Quintero (Colombia). Leader – Quintero.
Stage 2: Winner – Theo Bos (Belkin). Leader – Quintero.
Stage 3: Winner – Andrea Guardini (Astana). Leader – Quintero.
Stage 4: Winner – Mirsamad Pourseyedi Golakhour (Tabriz Petrochemical). Leader – Pourseyedi Golakhour.
Stage 5: Winner – Bradley White (UnitedHealthcare). Leader – Pourseyedi Golakhour.
Stage 6: Winner: – Kenny van Hummel (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela). Leader – Pourseyedi Golakhour.
Stage 7: Winner: – Bos. Leader – Pourseyedi Golakhour.
Stage 8: Winner: – Bos. Leader – Pourseyedi Golakhour.
Stage 9: Winner: – Bos. Leader – Pourseyedi Golakhour.
Stage 10: Winner: – Winner: – Guardini. Overall winner – Pourseyedi Golakhour.
1. Mirsamad Pourseyedi Golakhour (Tabriz Petrochemical) 35:07:16
2. Merhawi Kudus (MTN-Qhubeka) +0:08
3. Isaac Bolivar (UnitedHealthcare) +0:11
4. Esteban Chaves (Orica-GreenEDGE) +0:20
5. Petr Ignatenko (Katusha) +0:36
6. Jacques Janse van Rensburg (MTN-Qhubeka) +0:40
7. Steven Kruijswijk (Belkin) +0:52
8. Gianfranco Zilioli (Androni Giocattoli-Venezuela) +1:09
9. Ghaffari Vahid (Tabriz Petrochemical) +1:27
10. Carlos Quintero (Colombia) +1:37
Race links & reports: Official website, cyclingnews.com