I can never get enough done here at the Tour de Langkawi especially when you go out on bike rides of epic proportions after the pro racing has finished! Cam Whiting, a fellow cycling journalist and analyst in Asia-Pacific, and I went out on a road bike ride that turned into a 3-hour adventure with tropical rain-storms, jungle riding and getting a little lost before eventually finding our way back to the media hotel. It was one of those epic rides that won’t be forgotten in a while.
Yesterday was my first time on the media motorbike and, frankly, I find it more tiring than bike racing itself. I’d much rather be sitting in the middle of the peloton turning over those pedals. From my experience at other major Tours I have covered in the Asia region that involved the use of media motorbikes, I always feel more physically drained than when I come back from a hard bike race or training ride. However, I did get some nice action shots of the Garmin-Barracuda cycling team riding tempo on the front of the peloton for most of the day. David Zabriskie is still safely in yellow and is likely to retain it at least till the Genting stage; provided he climbs exceptionally well – but it seems that his team has put their cards with Thomas Danielson to be the performer on the do or die stage that is inevitably going to explode the peloton to fragments.
Guardini, the Italian powerhouse, just seems unbeatable here despite his heavy crash in Oman. In fact his bandages are already off, exposing some pretty looking road rash that is healing quite nicely. The Italian rider is fast closing on Graeme Brown’s record of nine stage wins and it would be a safe bet, baring any crashes, that he will surpass that record for most wins by one rider. The other teams that are in the best position to figure out a way to beat the speedster is the UHCProcycling team and Champion System. Both teams have very good sprinters within their quivers and, provided they use some innovative tactics, they could potentially upstage Guardini but it would require a cunning and bold plan to execute it well.
Stage three was a carbon copy of stage two where an early breakaway gets established, only to get caught by a rampaging peloton in the closing stages. The remnants of the four-man breakaway were swept up on the KOM climb and immediately the Colnago cycling team went on the hard offensive, blasting it over the short climb in their attempt to drop Guardini. But it was a failure and this only served to string out the peloton and desperate chasing ensued. This also result in carnage, riders reported that four separate crashes occurred in that last 10km after the KOM. Garmin-Barracuda had a scare with Tom Danielson hitting the deck pretty hard just inside 3kms to go and finished seven minutes behind, but was awarded the same time as the leader since it happened within 3kms. As the riders fatigue towards the end of the long hot stages, coupled with the high speeds of 50km/h plus it just takes a small mistake by one rider to cause a multitude of crashes. There is also a wide gulf of abilities within the peloton with inexperienced riders versus Pro-Contential and World Tour teams.
Later at the press conference, Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda) was obviously suffering from the heat put an early end to the meeting; and scattered back to the team car. I had this first hand report, overhearing the Garmin team director saying that Zabriskie was quite funny. He went back to the team car, stripped completely naked, got in and rode all the way back to the hotel in the nude. It was his way of battling the oppressive Malaysian heat.
I still have today’s report that is due on my website but this will be done tomorrow and I will also have a selection of photos up for viewing, once I have fast enough internet to upload photos. Stay tuned to my twitter handle: @Bikedan and also Cam Whiting at @CyclingIQ if you wish to glimpse at behind-the-scenes at the Tour de Langkawi. In addition, I am writing for the UHCProcycling team and Neilpryde Bikes, so my reports and photos can also be viewed there.