Stage 5 untill 9 Tour de Langkawi
It's been a couple of
days since my last update from the Tour de Langkawi.
During this time we
have been confronted with two mountain stages whereby I rode fully
in service of the team. The first mountain stage (where teammate
Bonnin came 4th) I went full blast on the descent of the 1st
category climb with the team's two climbers (Bonnin and Doi)
following me, in doing so I thinned out the group. In general
climbers are not good descenders, especially not in rain so we were
able to start the final climb of the day with a bit of an
advantage. For me it was good training and after wards I just
finished the stage.
After that we had a
few fairly flat days (with an unbelievable amount of rain each
day). First we rode to set up the sprint for Marcel Kittel and
Kenny van Hummel. Once Marcel had a flat tyre with two kilometres
to do and otherwise we got a few top 5 places with our
The last two days we
have changed our tactic with the plan to get either myself or
Albert Timmer in a breakaway as we expected a breakaway to get to
the finish in at least one of the stages.
Yesterday in terms of
weather was the worst day of the Tour de Langkawi so far with
monsoon like rain the whole day making the quite flooded or with
really deep puddles. It was a good chance for a breakaway giving
that the race would be harder to control for a sprint with such bad
weather. After several attacks, I managed to make it into the
right group which got away. We got away with about 25km to go and
at the start we rode well together in an eight man group.
Unfortunately the cooperation went away at about 5km to go and the
peloton caught us with 800m to go. Shame.
Today the stage was
shortened due to the bad weather and the dangerous roads I was
mentioning. The stage still ended up being 130km with the
stage starting and finishing in the same place. Once again it took
a long time before a leading group got away, at about 80km. The
stage finished with an average speed of 48km/h, and that with a
head wind illustrates how had it was for a good breakaway to get
away. In the end I managed to be in the leading group that keep
going full blast to the finish, in a group of 11 men.
In a leading group
like that there are alot of different interests, we had one rider
present who was high up enough in the general classification, lying
1:30 behind the leader as well as having two riders from teams that
were battling it out for the team classification, all different
interests that you have to take into account. I wasn't planning on
leaving it to a sprint because we had at least two sprinters in the
group that can win mass sprints so I didn't see much hope of
winning from a sprint. I wanted to place at least one brutal
attack and put all my energy in such an attack. I decided to do so
at 3km from the finish but the kilometre signs didn't make sense,
with the 5km sign being followed by the 2km to go sign one
kilometre later. At that time two guys got away and I was surprised
that we were so close to the finish. The riders who were going for
the team classification went to the front of the group to defend
their leads so I waited a little bit. When I finally did attack
because we weren't able to close the gap, a rider from Eurocar took
to the front and closed the gap to me with the rest of the group in
his wheel. I stopped my attack and he passed by with the whole
group which let him ride to 2nd place. In the sprint I didn't have
strength anymore after the attack and I was a disappointing
I was riding to win
and for nothing else and I did every thing I could for it. I don't
know exactly what I should have done differently to do it better as
it's not so easy to read how a finale like that is unfolding.
Afterwards I think that I shouldn't have waited so long but my
tactic could have worked out. Every finale is different and
hopefully it will work out the next time with a win.
The positive thing is
that after nine stages I've been part of the right breakaway group
three times. The first stage I felt really strong and we were only
caught with 3km to go. Yesterday I was in the group that was caught
800m to the finish and today I was in the group that stayed away
until the end.
The legs are good and
the awareness is clearly all working well early in the season so I
am fairly confident for the rest of the season, it will have to
work out some time!