By Greg Johnson in Karak, Malaysia
Shinichi Fukushima will give his all during tomorrow’s decisive Genting Highlands stage following an impressive stage 7 victory in the Tour de Langkawi today. The Japanese rider was shocked during this afternoon’s press conference when he learned of his second placing on general classification from a Cyclingnews reporter.
"I’m second in the general? Really?" exclaimed Fukushima. "Oh! I must scramble tomorrow. I think I’m in good form, so I think I can do a good race [tomorrow]."
Fukushima was one of ten riders who broke from the peloton early, pulling out a gap of up to eight minutes before the main bunch reduced the margin. The Nippo-Meitan Hompo rider resisted calls by sprint jersey holder Alberto Loddo five kilometres from the finish to stay together, instead opting to bolt to the line with Tinkoff Credit Systems’ Elia Aggiano.
"It’s very, very big. This is the biggest race of the year [for me]," explained Fukushima of today’s win. "I always go to Europe every year, but I never start a high category race in Europe, I start only first category.
"This race is the top in Asia. I’m Asian so I am very happy to win the biggest race in Asia as an Asian rider."
Fukushima’s 2.45 minute victory over the main bunch not only elevates him to second on general classification, it places him and the Nippo-Meitan Hompo team first on the Asian rider and team classifications.
Shinichi was quickly congratulated by brother and teammate Koji, who took podium photos and was quickly on the mobile making phone calls following his sibling’s win.