Some 15 years ago, Mohd Harrif Saleh was a streetwise kid racing on a “mosquito bike” on the streets of Terengganu. Today, he is the hottest Malaysian thing on two wheels.
His exploits in road cycling have made him a worthy catch for any professional cycling team but he intends to stay loyal to his home state.
Harrif became the only Malaysian double winner in 25 years of Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) history when he won Stage Five of the race from Kuala Kubu Baru to Ipoh on Tuesday.
Harrif, who claimed his first win in Stage Two of LTdL from Senawang to Melaka last year, said there was no reason for him to switch ranks despite having received offers.
The 31-year-old rides for Terengganu Inc. TSG Cycling Team.
“Terengganu have always been good to me and supported my career from the start.
“We are a close-knit team and we are the No. 1 ranked team in the UCI Asia Tour (for 2019 season). I feel proud to ride for my home state. It’s something money can’t buy,” said Harrif.
Harrif has become one of Malaysia’s top road cyclists and contributed three gold medals from two SEA Games campaigns (2015 in Singapore and 2017 in Kuala Lumpur). He did not go to the last SEA Games in the Philippines.
Despite his win on Monday, the 31-year-old cyclist had a tough day at the office yesterday, managing only to finish 80th in Stage Six but he is not giving up on the mission to win the Green Jersey (Best Sprinter).
“There were hill sectors today and I was a bit exhausted after the fierce sprint race a day earlier. It will be quite flat in the last two stages and hopefully, I can close the gap at the top with the help from my teammates.
“I know I can be as good as any cyclist out there,” said Harrif, who is ranked third in the Green Jersey battle with 27 points.
German Maximilian Richard Walscheid from NTT Pro Cycling Team maintained his lead at the top with 47 points.