By Anthony Tan in Tampin
A recurring bout of stomach troubles didn't stop Gene Bates from riding an exceptional race on the sixth stage of the Le Tour de Langkawi. "I woke up this morning and was on a mission to prove that I'm not just here to play around," he said on the day.
After 19 kilometres, the Aussie neo-pro attacked with three others, and when team-mate Massimo Iannetti also made the junction eight k's later, LPR became the best-represented team in the day's winning move of eight riders. "Yesterday, that was the plan, to save my legs a little bit," Bates said of his 'easy' ride up Genting the day before. "I ended up getting that bad stomach bug again, so that sort of drained me overnight - but I just dug deep.
At 10 kilometres to go and a roaring peloton breathing down their necks, the 24 year-old had two things to worry about: being caught and the seven other riders in the break, save for Iannetti. However, so long as the break stayed away, the diminutive rider's fast finish put him in with a chance.
"With about a k and a half to go the Japanese rider hit out and nobody chased him. I thought, 'Gosh, that's the race gone' - then the AG2R guy went after him and attacked and I said to msyelf, 'Well, there's second gone'. But then we just gathered speed and I think the Bouygues Telecom guy realised he wasn't going to win so he lead it out... I was coming at him that fast that I thought I could roll him at the line, but I think he beat me by a bike length.
"We did everything we could - Massimo [Ianetti] rode his heart out for me and just to get beaten on the line like that is frustrating," he said, looking both drained and disappointed.
Asked if he was over the worst of his bathroom dilemmas that have plagued him since the third stage to the Cameron Highlands, he replied with a laugh: "Yeah, well, I think I'm over it and then it will hit me again, so no more coffees in the morning!"