Australian Continental team IsoWhey sports SwissWellness have ridden an Asian racing programme for the better part of the last decade but until this year were yet to line out at the Tour de Langkawi. In an attempt to earn an invite, the team transferred its license from Australia to New Zealand although the move would prove unsuccessful.
In 2017, the team finally secured its invitation and on day one unleashed its pent up frustrations from years of watching from the side-lines, justifying its selection with victory for Scott Sunderland.
"It has taken us so long to eventually get to a HC race. It's one we have always wanted to do," team manager Andrew Christie-Johnston told Cyclingnews and Eurosport. "It has been hard sitting at home watching for so many years, thinking maybe we'd have a decent crack over here. To see 'Sundo' take stage 1 is bloody awesome."
In Asia, the team has enjoyed overall success at the Tour of Taiwan, Japan Cup and numerous stage wins at the tours of Korea, Taiwan, Korea, and China. However, the fact they are an Australian and Oceania team is not lost on Christie-Johnston who explained the challenges getting race starts in Asia.
"We feel that we are definitely good enough, it's just been difficult to gain the starts here. We understand that we are part of the Oceania tour it is always hard in a race that is an Asian tour of this stature but I think we have shown that we are competitive here straight away and the boys are pretty positive about starting off with a win."
While celebrating success on the bike and the results his riders have put endless hours of dedicated training into to achieve, for Christie-Johnston the greater success is developing his riders and sending them into the WorldTour. Something he has achieved with the likes of Richie Porte, Nathan Haas, and Will Clarke among many more, almost on a 'one rider per season' regularity.
"Our biggest success is always when a rider goes to the WorldTour. It is not a race result but it is the result that we are after. As far as race results, this has to be pretty well up there. It has been a race that we have really wanted to do for so many years and we thought we were pretty close at times," he said. "To see Scott, a new rider who has probably lacked a bit of confidence, to head to Langkawi and show it against a couple of good guys, it is big. It's big for us and it's big for Scott."
With stage two proving too difficult for Sunderland, Christie Johnston forecasted several upcoming days would be better suited to the capabilities of his 28-year-old rider who believes can head home with a swag of stage wins.
"I think Scott's biggest challenge and what I have always said to him is that he has to get over the hills. He has to go over them as easy as he can so that he comes out in good form for the last days of the tour," he explained. "I would say his next stage is probably stage 3 and five onwards. Hopefully he can get a bag full."