MELAKA: The experience of drills with the cycling team in Terengganu paid off handsomely for National Defence University of Malaysia (UPNM) rider Mohamad Afi Danial Ramli Abu Bakar who managed to bag three jerseys in the first stage of 2023 Le Tour de IPT(LTdIPT).

The rider wearing jersey number 56 and who has competed in the Malaysia Games (SUKMA), passed the finish line with a time of 2 hours 18 minutes 21 seconds to claim the Yellow Jersey over a distance of 96.4 kilometres as the overall winner of the first stage.

The 20-year-old rider’s energetic ride from Segamat Community College in Johor to Universiti Teknikal Malaysia (UTeM) here also secured him the White Jersey (best under-21 rider) and the title of Sprint king (Green Jersey).

“Today’s race was quite challenging because all the riders were still fresh and many were chasing after the title of King of the Mountain or King of the Sprint but despite our best, there were some mistakes and team members were faced with cramps.

“Likewise for me, even though the slopes are my favourite but I didn’t expect there to be a turn during the sprint in the last few metres,” said Afi Danial who hails from Kota Tinggi in Johor.

Apart from bagging three jerseys, UPNM also ensured that the title of King of the Mountain belonged to their team through Ahmad Irfan Abdul Hamid who won the Polka Dot Jersey.

Overall, the first stage also saw Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) rider Muhamad Hafizul Asyraf Jaafar finish in second place with a time of 2 hrs 18:30s, followed by Muhammad Iqbal Imran Md Zahiruddin from UPNM (2:18:32) in third position.

In the meantime, UPNM team manager Hilmi Jalil said they will adjust their race strategy to face the second stage tomorrow which is expected to be more intense.

“The most important thing is the aspect of communication between the cyclists because there were several incidents including a miscalculation of the sprinting distance to the finish line to produce maximum acceleration.

“We will review all of this and inform the riders to ensure that they do not repeat the same mistakes tomorrow,” he said.

The second stage of LTdIPT 2023 tomorrow will see 78 riders in a criterium race of 30 laps at UTeM over a distance of 60 kms.

The 2023 LTdIPT is the inaugural edition of a cycling tour featuring 16 teams from public (IPT) and private higher education institutions (IPTS) that started today involving four stages over a total distance of 332.7 kms -- starting from Universiti Tenaga Nasional (Uniten) with the last stage ending at KPT Putrajaya.-Bernama

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