The Jakarta Post
Despite not winning a single stage in the 2019 Tour de Indonesia, France's Thomas Lebas came out on top as the overall winner of the cycling competition on Friday.
After battling the heat and steep climbs throughout the past five days, Lebas, who did not win any of the daily races in the five-stage battle, was the fastest rider in general individual classification with a total time of 20:07:32, enough to win his first Tour de Indonesia title.
Through his controlled performance, Lebas, who rode for Japanese team Kinan Cycling, showed that consistency was key to his victory in the 10th edition of the prestigious Indonesian race.
The buildup of Lebas’ victory started when he came second as the best climber in the fourth stage, a 147.3 kilometer route from Jember to Banyuwangi in East Java.
The Frenchman finished eighth in the final stage, which was 136.8 kilometers from Gilimanuk in Jembrana to Geopark Batur in Bangli of Bali – enough for him to win the title. It was Lebas’ second victory in an Indonesian race, having won at the 2017 Tour de Flores.
“Every day [the competition] is really open. The situation can change everyday, so you have to stay at front at all stages and don’t lose too much time with the leader,” he said.
“The first stage was very very important. If I lose nine minutes with the peloton then I cannot win the GC [general classification]."
Besides claiming the green jersey for being the fastest in the general classification, Lebas also grabbed the blue jersey as the best climber of the tour.
Second and third place went to two tour debutantes, Australia’s Angus Lyons of Oliver’s Real Food Racing team and the Netherlands' Jeroen Meijers of Taiyuan Miogee Cycling, respectively.
The 2019 Tour de Indonesia ended with optimism coming from the organizers as they plan to keep the competition from going on hiatus, as it did between 2012 and 2017.
Indonesian Cycling Federation (ISSI) head Raja Sapta Oktohari said the organizers had considered adding more stages in the upcoming edition.
The 2019 champion responded positively to the organizers’ plan, saying that more stages would mean more challenges and more excitement for cyclists.
“Five stages is already very hard but I think six stages is possible, but maybe no more [than that],” he said.