Bukittinggi, West Sumatra. Jai Crawford had been lurking behind Tour de Singkarak leader Masakazu Ito since Day 1, and the Australian rider made his move on Thursday to overtake his Japanese rival and snatch the yellow jersey.
The Genesys Australia rider finished just fifth in the longest stage of the tour – a 157.7-kilometer ride from Padang Pariaman to Bukittinggi — in four hours, 14 minutes and 34 seconds.
But it was enough for Crawford to move into first place in the individual classification with a total time of 11:52:18 after four stages, as Aisan Racing Team’s Ito endured a difficult day and finished 18th in Stage 4, 1:52 behind the Australian.
“It is really a pleasure to win the jersey, That has been our plan for today,” Crawford said.
He said that one key to the stage victory was good strategy and cooperation within his team, including in holding off the Iranian Azad University team, defending team champion of the Tour.
In losing his yellow jersey, Ito also slipped to ninth place in the individual standings despite winning Stage 1 and holding the overall lead until Thursday.
Crawford said Ito and Aisan team were no longer the biggest threat to win the Tour. “They are now far behind us,” the 28-year-old Australian said.
John Ebsen won the stage, which was marked by heavy winds and rains that poured down at Kelok 44, a difficult part of the stage composed of 44 sharp turns. The CCN team rider finished in 4:14:30.
Stage 3 winner Oscar Pujol Munoz of Azad, a Spaniard, was second in the same time as Ebsen, while Terengganu Malaysia’s Moh. Saufi Mat Senan was four seconds behind in third.
Munoz kept the polka dot jersey as he won in two of three climbs — at Kelok 44 and Malalak — in the stage.
Indonesian riders have yet to win a stage in this year’s Tour. Veteran Tonton Susanto of Putra Perjuangan Bandung was the fastest local rider in the stage as he finished sixth, four seconds behind the winner. His teammate Dadi Suradi, who finished eighth on Thursday, still leads the local racers’ standings and is third overall with a total time of 11:52:36.
Putra Perjuangan also moved to the top of team standings with a total time of 35:41:58. The Australian National Team was 18 seconds behind at second.
“So far, I’ve been racing as expected. Now I’ll try at least to hold this position while waiting for the best chance to move to the top,” Dadi said. “It’s been a great race for me and the team. We’ll try to maintain this in the fifth stage.”
Today’s fifth stage will cover 149 kilometers, mostly downhill, from Padang Panjang to Singkarak.
The Rp 1 billion ($107,000) road race is scheduled to finish in the West Sumatra capital of Padang on Sunday.