First race of the year couldn’t have started out better than with a win in the opening Time Trial at the Tour of Langkawi. It was a fast course. I wanted to cut loose, go fast, so that’s what I did and it turned out quite well. I was pleased to win and honored to wear the first leader’s jersey of the race.
This was my first time to Malaysia and the heat and humidity is really intense. Think of it like living in a hot shower. I did my best to prepare for it by spending inordinate amounts of time in the sauna and working with some wet heat as well. But you really have to experience it to understand just how intense the heat can get. Fire hoses were used after some of the stages to cool off an over-cooked peloton.
The team did a great job those opening days defending my leader’s jersey and also keeping Tommy D. in the running. This was my first race back and I could tell I was missing some of the race rhythm but I was totally unprepared for being shot out the back of the field on the first climb of the race. I had worked a lot on climbing this winter and felt I was climbing well. I think the heat got the best of me and maybe I was a bit sick as well. The body was just not firing correctly. I wouldn’t have finished the race had it not been for the brave efforts of Raymond Kreder to stay with me and tow me to the finish.
The next day wasn’t much better with the infamous Ghenting climb. I was dehydrated and I was cramping so bad I had to get off the bike. There wasn’t a drop of liquid in my body as it noticeably shut itself down. The day was not good for Tommy D. either. He was still suffering from his crash in an earlier stage finish and was unable to drop everyone and win the stage. Tom Peterson became our GC rider all of a sudden he had a good ride up the climb even after pulling the field around for the first few stages. He’s hairy-armed tough guy. The last few stages were actually fun. We had a young team at the race and they really wanted to race, break things up, turn the screws. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone attack as many times as Nathan Haas did.
You always pick up a little something unexpected when you do these races and travel with the younger riders. Well thanks to Alex Howes now I can’t stop saying, “You think that funny cowboy”. All in all it was a good first race back. I’m glad to have had the chance to race in Malaysia and experience this tour.
Now I’m back in Girona and getting everything dialed in for the euro season. It should be an interesting one.