Months of hard training during the winter has delivered Tom Leezer with his first professional victory at Tour de Langkawi. A "thrilled" Leezer captured the win in solo style, crossing the line with plenty of time to savour the moment of his first professional victory - something which has taken him five years to achieve.
The loss of Theo Bos, who was also Leezer's roommate, prior to the start of stage six may have seemed like a disaster for the Blanco team, which was banking on the two-time stage winner cleaning-up the remaining sprints at this year's Tour de Langkawi, but the team has bounced back by taking a stage win with Leezer on the longest and wettest day of the tour.
The dramatic end to the 217.5km stage, which seemed destined for a bunch sprint, was spoiled by one rider in a blue and white jersey who powered into the finishing straight at Kuantan on his own.
Leezer had less than 30 seconds advantage over his nearest chaser after being on the attack for much of the day and broke clear of a final select group in the closing kilometres pounded by rain. The speeding peloton was also unable to catch Leezer.
"I was first in the break after 70k but there was one rider from Farnese Vini [Jonathan Monsalve] from the GC, so it stopped after 120, 130 kilometres," he told Cyclingnews. "Then I went back to the car to get some drinks and told them I was tired.
"After 30 or 40k I felt better and I thought, 'ah, why not, I'll give it a go'. All of a sudden I was in the right break. With 10k to go we rode away with five [riders] and then at 7k to go I rode off alone.
"I kept hammering to the finish and I succeeded in the end."
The 27-year-old has enjoyed a number of results since he turned professional with Rabobank in 2008, but while he was part of the winning team time trial squad at Tirreno Adriatico in 2011, Langkawi was the first time he's ridden across the finish line with his hands thrown towards the sky.
"I'm really, really thrilled. It's my first victory as a professional. I've waited for this for five years and it's finally happened," he told Cyclingnews.
The win was also reaffirmation that Leezer had recovered from his late season injury sustained at Omloop van het Houtland in mid-September of last year.
"I'm really happy [with the win]. I fractured five vertebrae, my shoulder blade and the end of the shoulder [in a crash late last year. I've been working for four months during the winter to get fit and now this. I'm very happy."