Riders may have gone to bed expecting a climbers finish for stage 7 of the Tour de Langkawi but they’ll be waking up to the news that the Gunung Raya finishing ascent is off the agenda, with bad weather and landslides on the route having led to a late change.
The stage 7 course was expected to spiral into the centre of Langkawi to tackle the 13-kilometre climb at the end of an intense 90.8km stage. While the racing will go ahead on Monday, it will instead be on the route that was meant for stage 8. That delivers terrain that is more likely to play into the hands of the sprinters or a break, with the original stage 8 course delivering a finishing loop with repeated category 3 climbs near the end before a downhill run into the finish line in Kuah.
“Following meetings with the local authorities which include the Road Works Department, Langkawi District Office and Langkawi District Traffic Safety Committee, it was decided that the stage 7 finish at the summit of Gunung Raya is cancelled due to concerns on safety of riders, teams, race entourage and the public,” said race organisers in a statement.
It is not clear from the statement whether racing will extend beyond Monday, to Tuesday and an eighth stage, as originally scheduled, and if so whether there will be any further modifications to the course.
Ivan Sosa (Movistar) is currently in the yellow jersey of the race leader, with Hugh Carthy (EF Education-EasyPost) at 23 seconds back and no other riders even within two minutes. The removal of Gunung Raya will make it more difficult for anyone to challenge the Colombian’s lead or the place of his teammate Einer Rubio Reyes who is sitting in third place at 2:02 with five riders within 30 seconds.
The Tour de Langkawi, which usually runs early in the year, was cancelled in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic and postponed this year to take an October slot on the calendar. That means that it has run close to the start of the monsoon season and while the race has been repeatedly hit by rain, it hasn’t stopped proceedings until now.
The eight-day Malaysian tour had just made the shift from Peninsular Malaysia to the island of Langkawi and while the weather was starting to clear as the riders arrived by ferry the issues it had caused weren’t about to budge so easily.
“The cancellation was made due to the landslides which occurred at four locations in Gunung Raya,” said the statement.