By Greg Johnson in Langkawi, Malaysia
The South African squad is hoping to continue its dominance of Malaysia's Tour de Langkawi when the event gets underway tomorrow, with team leader and defending champion David George declaring he has the same event winning form as last year.
"I think the condition is more or less the same," George told Cyclingnews. "Last year everything right and this year we need everything to go right again for the second year in a row."
George believes his current form combined with the experience of contesting last year's event holds him in good stead to defend his title, and claim the team's third consecutive Tour de Langkawi victory.
"I think there's enough hard stages that if we don't get caught out on breakaways or get split in the bunch, then physically I think we should be there," said George. "I think there are one or two stages that suit me, and I can hold my own on the flat stages as well."
George’s beliefs are backed wholeheartedly by team manager Tony Harding, who added that while his main rider is strong, the level of competition has also stepped up a notch.
"George is in excellent form, he's a good professional cyclist, he always prepares himself well for an event like this," noted Harding. "I don't think David is going to let himself down - he's definitely not going to let South Africa down. In saying that the competition is a lot more difficult this year - were going to have our work cut out for us."
Despite the confidence George has in his form the South African has far from written off his rivals, saying he believed there are riders from all corners of the globe that will make him work hard for a second victory.
"Every day is important because there's a big difference in level within the group so you've got to be awake because a group of riders can go and that's it," he added. "If we don't get caught out with things like that we should be okay to be there when it counts."
The Tour de Langkawi gets underway tomorrow with a 82 kilometre stage on the Malaysian island of Langkawi before heading to the mainland for the remaining nine stages of the Tour.