January 29/03 9:24 am - Langkawi Pre-race Report, Tour de Georgia Update
Posted by Editor on 01/29/03
All Canadians have arrived at Langkawi, a resort island off the northwest coast of Malaysia, just below the border with Thailand. It is hot and sunny, with daytime temperatures in the mid-30s Celcius.
The race begins Friday with a 9.5 kilometre time trial through Kuah Town. The riders make a right almost immediately after they leave the staring ramp and begin the first of two short, sharp climbs in a row. Eric Wohlberg (Saturn) has raced the course before, and describes it as "tough. It's not long enough to lose minutes on, but you could easily lose 30-45 seconds. The climbs are harder then you think, and then there is a long false flat before the finish. The wind will be a factor as well, I'm sure."
Gord Fraser has also done this time trial, and the short explosive effort could suit him. Before the New Year, his Hot Wheels (formerly Mercury) squad was saying that they would have an invite to the race, but it appears that Hot Wheels will not get off the ground in time to register with the UCI as a Division III team by the deadline of January 31st (Friday).
To be blunt, Fraser is over here looking for a job. He said that he has already had contact with 3 teams, one of them he confirmed as Marlux Wincor-Nixdorf. The Belgium squad will not be signing former world champion Romans Vainsteins, and thus have a spot open for a sprinter - a position Gord Fraser can fill as well or better than anyone else. He hopes to know in which direction he will be going before the end of the race.
Currently, two-time winner Paolo Lanfranchi (Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo) is the favourite, after a strong performance at the Tour Down Under in Australia a week earlier. He knows the crucial Gentings Highland climb well. Defending champion Hernan Dario Munoz (COL) Colombia-Selle Italia is expected to mount a strong defence, and his team has been built to put him in good position to ride against Lanfranchi on Genting. Munoz is also in strong form, coming off winning the Vuelta a Tachira in Venezuela recently. 1998 winner Gabriele Missaglia (Lampre) should not be discounted either, nor should 2000 winner Chris Horner (Saturn), who always shows good early season form.
After the time trial, the race moves to the mainland for two flat stages, before the first climbing on the fourth 172.9 km stage from Gerik to Tanah Merah. This stage features two category one climbs, and Roland Green expects that here is where he will find out if his climbing legs are good enough to keep him with the leaders.
"I'm in pretty good shape right now, I just don't have much racing in me. The key is not to over-extend too early. My hope is to climb with the front group when the time comes. I can't expect to be right at the front, but my endurance is good and I can suffer."
Roland also revealed that he has not reached agreement with any of the road teams chasing him, and may eventually end up riding for US Postal. "Every team wants a bigger commitment then I can make right now."
Tour de Georgia Update
The Tour de Georgia (UCI 2.3) has announced the initial selection of teams that will participate in the first edition of this race, April 22-27. The list includes Division I teams US Postal and Rabobank. More teams will be added over the next few weeks.
U.S. Postal Service-Berry Floor (USA)
Prime Alliance (USA)
Sierra Nevada-Cannondale (USA)
7UP-Nutra Fig (USA)
Schroeder Iron (USA)
Ofoto-Lombardi Sports (USA)
Jelly Belly-Carlsbad Clothing (USA)
Jittery Joe's Coffee (USA)
Webcor-Alto Velo (USA)
West Virginia (USA)