The Burke Report: Must Be The A/C
The heat is on at the Tour de Langkawi, as Team Navigators’ Burke Swindlehurst files another “in saddle” report from the last 3 days of racing where if the sweltering heat or a/c doesn’t get you, the obnoxious monkeys might…
So, it’s been a few days since my last report and a lot has happened. Hmmm, where to start? Well, our G.C. man, Cesar, moved up to 3rd place thanks to a great ride two days ago on the Cameron Highlands stage which featured nearly 50 kilometers of climbing at the tail end of a very long and hot stage. Mark Walters also had a good day, covering our team’s interests in the compulsory early move.
The boys in blue pull Burke back to the bunch after a puncture on Stage 3.
For me, the day was a bit more taxing than I’d hoped for. After rolling with a few moves early on before the break finally went, I found myself with a front flat tire that was hard to handle at over 35 miles an hour. I quickly pulled off to the right of field and alerted my director, Ed Beamon. Unfortunately, since they drive on the left side of the road in Malaysia, all service must also be done from the left. Naturally, Ed was looking for me on the left and went straight past me. Needless to say, I ended up with bit more of a chase back to the peloton than I was hoping for!
The other hurdle I had was that my body still hasn’t caught on to the whole sweat-economy thang yet and I was losing fluid at a much faster rate than I could put it back in. I ended with some wicked cramps as we started the penultimate climb and had to watch the majority of the race leave me behind as I desperately tried to find a way to ride a bike without using my hamstrings. Not pretty. I’ll tell you what was pretty, though, and that’s the resort we stayed at after the stage. In a word, Idyllic. A beautifully manicured golf course coupled with a private beach and an amazing pool overlooking the sea. Not too shabby.
Cesar Grajales takes on water to battle the intense heat, and now sits 5th overall.
Stage 4 was a pretty much pan-flat 85 miles and an 8-man break quickly ran up to nearly 6 minutes. Our team didn’t have representation in it and with Selle Italia putting their top climber Jose Serpa into the move, we had to respond by helping Team South Africa with the chase. Big props to Shawn and Bernard for limiting our losses today. They did the lion’s share of bringing the gap back down, and trust me when I tell you that it’s some of the hardest work there is in bike racing. The Selle Italia rider finished alone and clawed back 3 of the seven minutes he lost on the first stage, putting him closer to the G.C. hunt.
Today’s Stage 5 race to the top of Mt. Ghenting is considered the “queen stage” with over 20 miles of climbing to the top of the mountain. We had our work cut out for us in keeping a strong presence at the front of the peloton to ensure Cesar and Mark would have good positioning going into the final climb. It was a bit dicey going into the base of the climb since all the other teams in the race had the same idea. I found myself leaning on more that a few riders trying to hold position and I’m sure my knuckles were about as white as they could be! Finally, the road pitched up something fierce with about 9 miles to go and the field shattered like a bad Rolling Stones cover. Cesar ended up finishing in a select group of riders which included the yellow jersey, David George. Unfortunately for us, he misjudged a tight turn with 150 meters to go and lost a handful of seconds that dropped him down to 5th on G.C. Selle Italia’s Serpa again won the stage, showing the field how fortunate we were that he missed the boat the first day.
Selle Italia’s Jose Serpa scores and impressive solo win high atop Ghenitng Highlands (the Alpe d’Huez of Langkawi).
For me, I”m finding myself in a “Deja Voodoo” as I seem to have come down with the same nasty bug I caught the last time I was here. In keeping with a long held cycling wives-tale, I’m blaming it on the air conditioner.
I’m planning on continuing since with smaller, 6 man teams, every man in the mix counts. On a lighter note, about halfway up the final climb a troop of monkeys high in the canopy above decided to laude us riders in the “grouppetto” and an Italian rider on the LPR team had a heated exchange with them. It’s always nice to have a good laugh amidst the suffering.
[Tech Ed Note: remember Paolo Bettini doing the same thing a few years ago, only to have one of the monkeys charge out and bite him in the a$$… and then live through the next few days having a few folks ride up behind him and grab pinch his butt while making a monkey “hoot” noise, sending Paolo out of his seat and laughter through the groupo…]
So, the next couple of stages are quite long with rolling terrain and I’m expecting more aggressive racing. I’m holding out hope that tomorrow I’ll wake up feeling fit as a fiddle.
I hope to keep you posted.
Thanks for bearing with me and my poor internet connections!
Easy Does It,
• Team Navigators
Tour de Langkawi- GC After Stage 5
1 3 RSA1976**** George,David RSA South Africa 16h10’33”
2 15 ITA1970**** Missaglia,Gabriele CLM Selle Italia Diquigiovanni 16h12’30” @ 01’57”
3 41 ITA1979**** Bellotti,Francesco C.A Credit Agricole 16h12’52” @ 02’19”
4 16 COL1981**** Pedraza,Walter CLM Selle Italia Diquigiovanni 16h12’52” = s/t
5 72 COL1973**** Grajales,Cesar NIC Navigators Insurance 16h12’53” @ 02’20”
6 96 GBR1979**** Sharman,Robin RCY Recyling.Co.Uk 16h14’53” @ 04’20”
7 82 ESP1977**** Elias Galindo,Jose REG Relax-Gam 16h15’13” @ 04’40”
8 11 COL1979**** Serpa,Josй CLM Selle Italia Diquigiovanni 16h15’17” @ 04’44”
9 35 FRA1976**** Lefevre,Laurent BTL Bouygues Telecom 16h15’27” @ 04’54”
10 45 FRA1976**** Poilvet,Benoit C.A Credit Agricole 16h16’15” @ 05’42”
11 46 USA1983**** Raisin,Saul C.A Credit Agricole 16h18’22” @ 07’49”
12 83 ESP1982**** Garcia,Raul REG Relax-Gam 16h19’14” @ 08’41”
13 76 CAN1976**** Walters,Mark NIC Navigators Insurance 16h19’24” @ 08’51”