By Greg Johnson in Melaka, Malaysia
Garmin-Slipstream will play a conservative strategy on tomorrow's Tour of Langkawi Stage 4, after narrowly missing out on a sprint stage for the second time today. The team will rest on tomorrow's stage, the second most challenging of this year's event, in the hope of winning the race's queen stage on Friday.
"That's all we will do, we'll just conserve, conserve and wait," said team sprinter Chris Sutton. "Then we'll play our cards – maybe start opening 'a can of whoop-arse' on the climbs."
After finishing runner-up on Monday's opening stage, Sutton again tried to nab a stage victory on Wednesday. But the Australian rider was once again beaten by race leader Mattia Gavazzi (Diquigiovanni-Androni), after Sutton's teammate Ricardo Van Der Velde spent the majority of the day's stage in the leading break.
Stage 5 will feature two climbs, the first starting at kilometre 103.4 (367 metres of altitude) and the second comes 69 kilometres later where riders will climb to 459 metres before descending to the finish. Sutton expects the race to break up over the 220-kilometre stage, but whether there's a strong enough team to pull it back together for a fourth sprint finish is unknown.
"It definitely will break up," he said. "I just need to make sure we're at the front and well positioned. Cameron Meyer is here for me at the moment, but the other four guys can absolutely fly up the climbs. They should be up there on the Genting stage. Christian [Meier], Timmy [Duggan] and Lucas [Euser] – they're all going good."
While the team will change its focus for the next two stages, there's still time for a sprint stage win according to Sutton. The second-year professional is confident he can get ahead of Gavazzi before the week is over.
"I know I will," he smiled. "I mean, you've got to be confident, not cocky, you know. At the moment I'm only good enough for second place.
"I know if I've got a good day, then I can beat him, so it could be on Sunday as it's a short circuit race," he added. "That suits me fine with all the criteriums in Australia. We will wait and see, I guess."