Tour de Langkawi Cycling News for February 10, 2006
Edited by Anthony Tan
To rest or not to rest?
By Anthony Tan in Melaka
No rest for the wicked says South
African tour leader David George
Photo ©: Shane Goss
On Wednesday afternoon in Tampin, a number of riders were looking particularly
weary at the finish of the sixth stage, the 178.7 kilometre journey raced
at an average speed of 41.74 kilometres an hour. The day before, which
saw the riders ascend the infamous climb of Genting, winner Josť Serpa
from Selle Italia Diquigiovanni completed the stage at a very brisk 33.05
So are ten straight days of racing too much, especially for the European-based
riders, who still have a full season ahead of them?
"Six of one and half dozen of the other, really," said race leader David
George to Cyclingnews. "Every year, somebody has an opinion on
how the race should prepare them for Europe, and every year it changes.
One year that had ten really long stages and it was enough for some and
too much for others. You're never going to keep everybody happy.
"Sure, Genting was a hard stage, but it was made hard by the way the
guys raced - so if you race aggressively, you'll be tired."
Credit Agricole's Saul Raisin was a rider who had to work particularly
hard on both stages, aiding his team-mate Francesco Bellotti on the climb
to Genting Highlands and then protecting the Italian's GC position the
following two days.
"Well, the other day up Genting, it's 100k and you know it's going to
be hard at the finish - it's a one hour effort [at] maximum - the rest
of the time you're sitting in the peloton and it's really not that hard,"
the American began by saying.
"Yesterday [Stage 6] was gas full time; four hours or however long it
was, you were riding [hard], you hit the climbs, you're attacking, you
were riding the whole day. And yesterday in the heat, it really wears
down on me, so it was definitely a lot harder."
George also pointed out that today's stage [Stage 8] was 72.7 kilometres
long with just a 16 kilometre time trial tomorrow in Melaka, before the
race wraps up with the traditional downtown criterium in the Malaysian
capital of Kuala Lumpur. "It's actually just a week of hard racing, so
I don't think it's too tall a task.
Saul Raisin: "I think it all
comes down to adequate rest"
Photo ©: Shane Goss
"It depends on who's saying it; if it's the Asian riders who are perhaps
at another level, then perhaps I can understand that; if it's the European
guys, I would say less whining and more riding."
Winner of Stage 7, Elio Aggiano of LPR, told Cyclingnews after
his win on Thursday that "it's better to be in the break than the bunch,
because yesterday [Stage 6] was purgatory in the bunch."
Raisin is one who will be racing a full season in Europe this year, and
despite this being only his second year as a professional, he doesn't
feel ten days of racing is too much, believing that sufficient rest is
"I'm not talking myself up, but ten days isn't too much for me," he said.
"I can do ten days of racing, and I think it makes the race more difficult.
The South Africans, who are winning right now, it makes them have to work
that much harder; it makes the race that much more equal, to have ten
days of racing kind of makes the race more open that way.
"I think it all comes down to adequate rest; I mean, if you do ten days
of racing, you're not going to lose fitness in a week, so you can take
almost a whole week off and do nothing. I've done it before - in between
races, you race and do nothing.
"You enjoy that, don't you?" we asked Raisin about his couch-time.
"Yeah, I do!" he exclaimed with a big smile. "But you have to watch what
you eat; I think it comes down to [the fact that] you can't gain a lot
of weight when you're not racing, you have to keep fitness, eat like a
bird. I think with adequate rest, you can race as many races as you want
- but you have to recover between races, and that just depends on you."
"That's the bottom line," concurred George. "It's a good race, it's early
on - and that's why we come here, to race. And I you don't want to race,
then don't race - ride in the laughing group every day... that's no problem
for us. If you want to win stages and you want to be competitive, no one
said it was going to be easy."
Saul's Malaysian Raisin d'Ítre
By Anthony Tan in Segamat
So tell me Saul...
Photo ©: Shane Goss
Speaking about Saul's raison d'Ítre at the Le Tour de Langkawi, which
has so far seen him win a classic stage to Cameron Highlands last Sunday
and purposefully defend team-mate Francesco Bellotti's third position
overall, which he holds on a knife's edge over Walter Pedraza (Selle Italia
Diquigiovanni) and Cesar Grajales (Navigators Insurance) - just one second
separates all three riders - the 23 year-old now admits he was being a
little coy about his form when we first spoke to him a day before the
"I was playing coy with you," said Raisin with a boyish grin.
"Well, I knew I was stronger than I was last year at this time of year,
a lot stronger than I was last year. And last year I was thirteenth up
Genting, so that kind of gave me an idea of where I might stack up in
On Tuesday's stage to the Genting Highlands, the American improved five
places to finish eighth best up the torturous climb, and he now lies in
eleventh overall after eight stages. Given that he was riding for Bellotti
on that day, the young American could well have done even better than
that had he been given carte blanche by his team. However, Raisin says
he's been happy to ride for another team-mate in this race, as his main
goal lies further down the track at the 2006 Giro d'Italia, where he will
adopt a co-leadership role with the Bellotti.
"Yeah, a lot happens in a year. I had a full year of racing last year,
and even with a full year of racing, I crashed, broke my hip and had a
whole month [off] with injury - so last year, I don't think I reached
my full potential for the period I'm at now," he said.
"So hopefully, if I can stay healthy this year, I can progress even more.
A year does make a big difference, especially since I'm still only 23,
my body's still changing, so who knows... "
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)