By Anthony Tan in Kuala Selangor
"If somebody wants to come and get it, then, well, let him... with Darren [Lill], Ryan [Cox] and myself, we've got the three of the best climbers in the race."
These were the taunting words issued by race leader David George of South Africa at the end of Stage 4 of the Le Tour de Langkawi, speaking about tomorrow's ultimately decisive stage to the Genting Highlands that finishes 1,699 metres above sea level.
For a fair portion of the stage, George's team from South Africa assumed their unspoken position at the head of the peloton, keeping the breakaway in check, but also showing they're a team not to be messed with. The latter may have been the case 10 years ago, when the Proteas first arrived on the shores of Langkawi island and didn't feature at all. Today, though, it's a different story.
"Ten years ago, we came to this race and we were way out of our depth; today we really showed that South African cycling has come a long way. Hopefully, we've had a day to recover so tomorrow we can figure up the front," said the 29 year-old from Cape Town.
On the subject of tomorrow's stage, there's probably ten or so riders who, on their day, are good enough to win atop Genting's surreal fantasyland - among them George himself, his team-mate Darren Lill, Cesar Grajales (Navigators Insurance, who sits in third position overall), previous mountains leader Francesco Bellotti (Credit Agricole, fourth on GC) and his team-mate, Sunday's winner Saul Raisin - but only a handful who can win overall. As George knows full well, Langkawi is theirs to win.
"Well... effectively we're in the best position," he admitted. "If it's an attacking race, then better for us - but we don't have to smash the race to pieces [ourselves].
"We don't need to watch everyone: we've got Missaglia at 40 seconds and the next guy at two and a half minutes; looking at how it went yesterday, we've got possibly some of the best riders in the race, so again, I don't think we need to be too concerned about it being an attacking race. We've got the job to follow and obviously to defend [the jersey] we'll have to."