Tour de Langkawi: Sprick wins first stage

Frenchman grabs Malaysian opener

Frenchman Matthieu Sprick of team Bouygues Telecom won the first stage of the Tour de Langkawi cycling race in Malaysia's northern town of Alor Setar on Saturday.

After joining a 19-man breakaway only 15 kilometres into today's stage, Sprick could never have imagined he'd be in yellow by the day's end. But that's exactly what happened as the Bouygues Telecom rider broke free from his breakaway companions with three kilometres remaining to claim only his second victory as a professional and by far the biggest of his four-year career.

"I was a bit surprised by my condition," said Sprick, a two-time Tour de France competitor. 

"This is the first serious race of the year, but I can see that my condition is very good and I hope to keep that good condition until the end of the race."

As Sprick had time to celebrate down the finishing straight in Kapala Batas, 21 year-old Australian Mitchell Docker (Drapac Porsche) sprinted to a strong second, leading home a group of 18 riders eight seconds behind the winner. 

Thereafter it was more than 20 minutes before the next man appeared, meaning that the battle for overall honours in the race's 13th edition will likely be contested by no more than 19 riders, with the Stage 8 summit finish to Bukit Fraser the only one capable of really shaking up the general classification.

The 9-stage race began in northern Kedah state and ends on Sunday February 17 in the capital Kuala Lumpur.

For more details, photos & full results, see Cyclingnews' coverage of the Tour de Langkawi.

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