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Moving on up: The Trent Wilson Journal 2004
After being one of six iTeamNova riders who made the cut last year when his Aussie Div III team merged with RDM-Flanders to form Flanders-iTeamNova, "Willo's" earned a place in Division II with Colombia Selle Italia in 2004. Follow his progress and get a taste of Aussie humour as he lights up the road in Europe. Trent also his own web site at www.trentwilson78.com where you can find out even more about this Sydney rider.
Tour de Langkawi Stages 1-4
Under pressure, but under control
Melaka, Malaysia, February 9, 2004
The Tour de Langkawi started on Friday and the team was gee'd for a big one. We had the team meeting and knew what we had to do. The sun was shining and temperature well towards the 40s.
Stage 1 - February 6: Bayan Baru, Pulau Pinang - Taiping, 112 km
Normally a short time trial, but this year they've started the tour off with a short, fast road race, finishing with two short tight circuits. I didn't expect an easy start to the day with the stage being so short, but the riders were actually keen to roll outta the gates. A few Asian riders went on the attack and the pros were quite happy in giving them a gap.
Quaranta's team, Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave, rode a nice tempo to keep the riders at about five mins. With about 30km to go, a few of the other teams helped out in the chase to bring the riders back. Russ and I were doing our best to keep the Colombians out of the wind. Coming into the finish, it was set up to be a sprinter's haven. All was looking like this until a few bright sparks miscalculated the laps we had to do (1 + 1 = 2). They let the cars on the course and all hell broke loose in the bunch until it got too dangerous and the big hitters called a "go slow". We cruised across the finish line and no one took the stage win. Bit disappointing, 'cause there was a huge crowd out to see the finish and it was set up to be an awesome finish between the sprinters. Not to worry; they awarded the yellow jersey to a Phillipines rider who had gained the time bonuses out on the road. So the tour will start proper tomorrow.
Stage 2 - February 7: Ipoh - Tanah Rata, 151.6 km
To say the team was gee'd this morning would be an understatement, and why wouldn't you be if you weighed 50kg and there was a 50km hilltop finish. After a 20km roll out, which was started off with a mass "pisso", which by the way was started by Brownie and myself (we were quite proud of that), the attacks started. Pretty soon a break went and it worked out perfect for us. We had Marlon Perez in the break and along with the other Colombians, he also climbs well.
On Perez, he is a top guy once he opens up. He'd have to be one of the more outgoing and hyperactive riders on the team. He came from a track back ground and actually won the Hornsby to Swansea in 2000 just before the Olympic games (so he must be good).
They got a good gap and at the bottom of the 50km ascent they had a four minute head start. The climb went up gradually for 35km, before a 4km descent, followed by a steep 10km climb to the top. Panaria set a tough tempo from the bottom which put a few riders in difficulty, including myself. I had done a bit of work and was looking for the grupetto to ride to the finish with, eventually being 40 riders strong.
Perez won the stage and my other team mate, 2003 Giro d'Italia KOM winner, Freddy Gonzalez, was second. Marin was fourth to make our day even better. Perez has the leader's jersey along with the climber's jersey, while Freddy has the points jersey. Not a bad day at all, but its going to be a hard week for Russ and I to try and defend the lead.
Stage 3 - February 8: Tapah - Raub, 171.2 km
I did this exact stage two years ago and it wasn't a good day; I crashed and took a fair bit of skin off, so I was hoping for better today. It was fairly flat for 110km before it started gradually climbing for 10km. Then it was fairly steep for 15km before a 15km descent and 10km flat to the finish.
It was on from the gun today and it didn't let up till the 25km mark when my old team-mates joined forces to form a duo break away. Scotty Guyton and Brett Lancaster jumped away on a small climb and the field hesitated for a moment. Russ and I took the opportunity and went straight to the front to ride tempo. They were both 20mins down and weren't endangering the overall lead, so we could let them get a bit of a lead.
Russ and I chopped off for the next 100km into a headwind while the duo went out to 10mins at the bottom of the climb. Russ and I had done our job, getting the Colombians to the bottom of the climb with the main group without touching the wind. I did one last ball-biting turn as we hit the steep bit before swinging off and cruising to the finish.
It started pouring with rain about 10km from the top which didn't make things any easier. It was a dodgy descent and I remember from two years ago a metal bridge being halfway down. There were a few bad crashes, one being my team-mate and tour leader. He hit that metal bridge and took himself out. He eventually lost the lead and fell to third, but Freddy now has the jersey. Perez still has the KOM jersey. Brett did an absolutely sensational ride to take the win by 30 seconds.
Stage 4 - February 9: Hulu Kelang - Tampin, 147.8 km
Last year before one of the stages we had pythons, this year it was monkeys. I got a photo with one and it jumped on me like a tree and started trying to hump me. Pretty funny stuff, but the handler wasn't amused - wasn't my fault if he was attached to me...
The race started once again from the gun and it didn't stop till a break finally went after 40km. We had to chase, and chase hard cause Ryan Cox (second on GC) snuck into the move. He sat up as we got close and came back to the bunch. In a smart tactical move by Barloworld, they then sent Sean Sullivan up the road. We were happy with this break and kept them at two mins for about 50km till we let it slip to five mins.
We thought the sprinters would take up the chase after the last catergorised climb with 35km to go, but they never did. They left it up to us to chase all the way home. At one stage Sulli had almost taken the jersey off Freddy, but we put our heads down and got the time gap back down to under two mins by the end.
Health Net has been going for the intermediate sprints all week to increase Gord Fraser's lead in the points comp, and we've had a gentleman's agreement to let them sprint while we keep tempo in the bunch and they'd re-join us after the sprint. Today, however, just as Russell punctured and we've been swapping off all day, they went for the final intermediate sprint but kept going this time, after yelling that they'd be back. Bad sportsmanship on their behalf and I'm disappointed in their professionalism. I'm sure the Phillipinno that went with them started the reaction but it wasn't the way to attack. Anyway, with that off my chest, they two Health Net riders cleaned up third and fourth.
Freddy held onto the lead going into tomorrow's time trial, and Perez increased his lead in the KOM comp. My legs feel very second-hand after 110km of swapping off two days in a row but for me, tomorrow is as close to a rest day I'm going to get. It's an 18km time trial and I've only got to do enough to make the time cut and save the legs for Wednesday.