Reigning two-time Philly Cycling Classic winner Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare) is poised to take the king of the mountains classification at Tour de Langkawi after a tough day of racing in stage 3 on Tuesday.
Reijnen, 28, suffered through a nagging knee injury, sustained in the closing kilometer of Tour de Langkawi’s stage 2, to claim KOM points on both categorized climbs, including the 1,982-foot (Cat 2) and 3,301-foot Titiwangsa (Cat 1).
Now, with five stages remaining and only a handful climbs for riders to challenge Reijnen’s 19-point advantage over nearest rival Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka), the American may be a lock for the final mountains classification award come Sunday when the race finishes in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
“It was a good day for the jersey,” an exhausted and visibly hurting Reijnen told VeloNews after stage 3. “The team staff took amazing care of me last night, and my teammates took amazing care of me during the first part of the race to set up that breakaway, so for sure it was big team effort.
“I’m a little disappointed as I think it would have been the best stage for me to win [stage 3], but the jersey is pretty much secure now.”
Reijnen is known for his turn of speed at the end of hard races, having won stage 1 and the points classification at the 2014 USA Pro Challenge.
With four categorized climbs remaining this week, including Fraser’s Hill (Cat 1), which was a last-minute replacement for the infamous Genting Highlands (HC) on the penultimate stage, due to safety concerns arising from construction work happening in the area.
“I’ve definitely got a lot of pain, and the team is going to have to nurse me along the next couple of days, but I still want to race aggressively,” said Reijnen. “The race isn’t over yet, and I’ll keep fighting.”
Aaron S. Lee is a cycling and triathlon columnist for Eurosport and a guest contributor to VeloNews