Kuala Terengganu, 15 October 2019 – There were, as anticipated, plenty of surprises in the opening stage of the inaugural Tour of Peninsular (ToP) today.

Azerbaijan National Team rider Elchin Asadov clinched a well deserved victory in the 180.6km first stage which started at UiTM Dungun and ended at Dataran Shahbandar in Kuala Terengganu.

Asadov’s team were only able to reach Terengganu at 9pm yesterday as they had been competing in Turkey until Sunday but that did not stop the 32-year-old from clinching the win in 3:57:26s.

Team Sapura Cycling (TSC) rider Christian Raileanu, who has been in strong form recently, came in a close second while to many people’s surprise Malaysia National Team youngster Danieal Haikkal Edy Suhaidee crossed the line third (all same time) which also saw him taking control of the Best Asian Rider jersey.

Asadov was visibly delighted with his performance considering the circumstances.

This is the fourth time he is competing in Malaysia. Asadov had previously competed for Synergy Baku Cycling Project together with Terengganu’s very own Anuar Manan.

“It was a very long flight from Turkey to Kuala Lumpur and then it was another 40 minute flight to here (Terengganu) so it was quite tiring,” said Asadov.

“But my teammates did a great job and I still felt good with 40km to go so I decided to attack and pushed hard with 400m to go.

“I am very happy to get the win here and have to thank my team and our federation. I am more of a breakaway specialist than a climber but I will try and defend this jersey, we will see how it goes.”

Danieal was also elated to achieve his first podium finish in a UCI Asia Tour event.

“I really wanted to do well here and gave it everything I had. Although we are the underdogs here, that did not stop me from pushing hard,” said the 21-year-old.

“I have always dreamed of being on the podium and am so glad to be able to have achieved it here. It means a lot to me especially as this is a UCI2.1 tour.

“I have always wanted to race against top pro riders from Malaysia and abroad and I will do my best to maintain my form. This results gives me a lot of motivation to keep working hard and improving as a rider.”

Terengganu Inc’s (TSG) hopes of seeing a Harrif Saleh win on home turf did not materialise but TSG’s Nur Amirul Fakhruddin Mazuki still managed a commendable sixth in a very tough opening stage.

The second stage tomorrow will remain in Terengganu. The day will start in Kuala Terengganu and end in Chukai with a total distance of 157.4km.