By Anthony Tan in Sitiawan
His team-mate Ryan Cox may be receiving most of the attention here in Malaysia, but 29 year-old David George is another capable of taking out the 2006 edition of the Tour de Langkawi after making yesterday's crucial winning break.
And quite possibly the hungriest. One of a handful of riders who got shafted in the Team Barloworld's reshuffle late last year when team manager John Robertson was replaced by Claudio Corti, George begins the season still without a team. "Absolutely," said George to Cyclingnews about his added motivation in light of the circumstances.
"Coming into this year, this is one of only two objectives that I had, so for me it's a good opportunity to show myself - so yes, I am hungry and we are here to do a big result."
Along with Navigators Insurance and Colombia Selle Italia, the South Africans gained the greatest benefit from the opening stage to Rawang, who are now in the enviable position of having two riders that can win overall. Said George post-stage: "These stages are always tricky ones, and to have both our GC contenders there, that's perfect for us, that's what we wanted. Both of us can win the race overall, so we're in a good situation."
"Really, the race is down to a group of 24 and there's only a handful of guys that can win this race, so I think tomorrow might be a bunch sprint and the first true selection with the climbers will happen on Sunday. It's not a hugely difficult climb, but it goes up 1,500 metres, so it's hard enough to show which guys have got good condition."
Speaking about his own condition, George said that apart from what went on with his former team, he's enjoyed a fairly solid preparation over Christmas and the new year. "[I'm] possibly in as good condition I can get and morale is as good as it can get, so we just need a little bit of luck.
"I had a reasonably good season last year, and I was hoping for a little bit more from the team than what I got," he said. "So ya, it was a relatively difficult time, but one gets over it, and what doesn't kill you makes you stronger - so you come back a little bit more hungry and with a little bit more to prove."