AS the number of stages remaining in the 19th Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) is reduced to just two, the Terengganu Cycling Team are feeling the pressure to produce something on home soil either today or tomorrow to satiate the hunger of their massive home fans.Again, the team's bid in a bunch sprint in yesterday's stage was foiled, this time with Anuar Manan floored in a pile-up in the final kilometre.
He was lucky to escape with bruises, although he did complain of some back pain which suggested the back injury that forced him into a lengthy lay-off last year could have been aggravated.
With Anuar down, Harrif Saleh tried to pick up the pieces but the change of strategy was too late, forcing him to settle for 11th spot in an explosive bunch sprint finish won by Belkin Pro Cycling's Theo Bos, ahead of Astana's Andrea Guardini.
"Today's pace was just so fast. I've never raced this fast in my life," said Harrif, 25. In the final kilometre, when Anuar crashed, I was lucky to avoid it, but then I found myself at the rear, needing to work myself to the front quickly.
"I only managed 11th, so it is disappointing. It's just not gone our way and with the pace of bunch sprints this fast, it is just so tough.
"We have two more days to do everything we can to meet our target of a stage win.
"It looks really hard, but we have no choice. We set a target and we will have to go for it until the end."
Anuar, Malaysia's only ever LTdL stage winner, was a picture of dejection after his crash.
"This was the stage that we should have delivered, but then I got into this crash almost near the finish.
"We have to pick up the pieces quickly and plan for the next two stages if we want to do something."
Read more: Time running out for Team Terengganu - Racing - New Straits Times