Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Wrap up of Tour Of Langkawi

The Tour of Langkawi was our first race based in Asia for the season and also the first time I would be racing as part of the Pure Black Racing / Bike NZ team.  We arrived in KL a week before the race began which turned out to be a good idea as it gave us a few days to get used to the heat.  The first stage of the tour was an individual time trial on road bikes with clip on aero bars - I had been feeling pretty good going into this and I was hoping for a strong ride - I was really happy to finish up 6th which was a huge result for me only 1.31 off the winner - David Zabriskie of the Garmin Barracuda Pro team - This meant I was now also placed 6th on the overall classification which was a good start for the team
Stages 2, 3 and 4 were all relatively flat and full of constant attacks from teams ( including ours ) to try and get a break to stick however all ending up in bunch sprints - Jimmy, Roman and Louis were active in the bunch sprints on these days with Roman picking up an 8th and James a 10th, 11th and 12 on each of the days - as the race always ended in a bunch kick there wasn't any changes into the overall classification so I was still on 6th place overall.

Stage 5 was another flat one but that didn't make it any easier for me puncturing not far from the end - with a wheel change likely to be far away Roman gave me his wheel which managed to get me off relatively quickly and back into the mix - A small bunch managed to ride off the front in the closing km's and I finished 24 sec down however due to the split there was a change in the GC classification and I moved into 5th place

Stage 6 is what I had been waiting for since the TT - the epic stage Genting Highlands - It includes a monster climb that I felt I had good legs going into - Its well known that the tour is won and lost on this stage as the stages that follow are all relatively flat in comparison  - All was going well as we neared the climb - James had managed to get himself into an early break and the boys worked hard to make sure they put myself and Mike in a good position going into the mammoth climb, that was until I got caught up in a crash at the bottom of the climb and lost a bit of time and position.  Unfortunately I just never really got back the thick of it after that and ended up finishing 24th 6.21 off the pace which I was pretty disappointed with.  As was expected there was a huge change on GC and after finishing so far down I lost my 6th place and moved down to 17th
The stage left me battered and bruised and the legs were a little worse for wear - we knew that the stage was huge but I think we underestimated just how massive the climb was and in 30 degrees plus it was definitely a hard day - it didn't make it any easier with the fact that the next day was a casual 205km!

Waking up on the morning of stage 7 I was a little stiff but was keen to try and get out there and have a crack at making up some time - Right from the gun it was on and there were a lot of attacks before I finally managed to get in one that stuck - There were 14 of us - the peleton didn't seem to react to much to us - likely to be because I was the best placed rider on GC  - 6 minutes down.
We worked pretty hard and at one point we had well over 4 minutes on the peleton but they began to shut us down and with 10 k to go we only had around 2 minutes - the break was now down to 13 and it became clear that I needed to get on the front and drive it as much as I could to try and keep the break ahead of the chasing peleton - with 5 k to go I got on the front and tried to see if i could ride clear and to lift the intensity of the other riders
I would have a chance of moving up on GC if we could hold the gap and with 2 k to go a few riders broke clear after repeated attacks, In the end 5 managed to sprint for line honours 13 sec up from the rest of us - I crossed line in 13th place a broken man after giving it my all to try and keep ahead of the peleton - it paid off and I finished just over a 1 minute 20 clear moving up to 10th on GC - a small redemption for my previous day

 After such a huge day I was pleased to be able to get off the legs and that stage 8 was only going to be a short day at just over 100k - not that it was going to hurt any less - we finished it at just over 2 hours and another bunch sprint - I was in the hurt box after the day before stage
Stage 9 and 10 where much the same - bunch sprint finishes - not from a lack of trying from us and other teams as everyone tried to get a break to stick
I'm not going to lie - I was pretty pleased when that 10th stage was done - It was a pretty tough tour but we were pleased with how we ended up, a few top ten stage placings, 6th on team classification ahead of some big name pro teams and 10th on general classification
Since the tour we have been based in Ipoh and have been able to get into some solid training ahead of our next races coming up
Thanks for reading and your support

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