By Shane Stokes in Tamping
Irishman David McCann continued his fine showing in the 2006 Telekom Malaysia Tour de Langkawi today, being in the thick of the action throughout the undulating 178.7 kilometre sixth leg and going close to taking the stage victory.
The Giant Asia rider went away in an eight man break just 27 kilometres into the race from Shah Alam to Tampin, then soloed clear on the first of two climbs coming early in the stage. He was out front alone for 31 kilometres before being joined by seven others. These stayed clear to the finish, with McCann making what he said afterwards was a tactical error in attacking one kilometre from the end. Japanese rider Shinichi Fukushima got across, then Frenchman Laurent Mangel (AG2R Prévoyance) countered and took the stage.
"The French guy wasn't doing much all day and I decided to watch him for the sprint," McCann said afterwards. "But I then changed my mind and attacked with a kilometre to go. I didn't quite get the gap I needed and they were able to get back to me. That took everything out of my legs. It was a stupid mistake, if I had done things otherwise I think I could have won the stage."
McCann came home seventh, five seconds behind Mangel. He has the consolation of winning the King of the Mountains primes at the top of both climbs and also taking two out of the day's three bonus sprints; he was also described by Mangel as perhaps the rider he was most worried about when it came to the finale.
The Irish TT champ says he will try again. "The time trial on Saturday is a big focus so the plan was to go hard today, then take it easy for the two stages before the time trial. Now I'm so mad at myself for messing the finish up, I feel like going on the attack again tomorrow. I wanted to win a stage so it is frustrating not to make the most of the opportunity today."
The Giant Asia squad are currently second overall in the Asian team standings, 1 minute and 27 seconds behind Japan. McCann says this is another focus. "Winning the Asian team classification is a goal but as the riders who count for that have to be Asian, it makes things harder for us. Japan has five guys while we only have three [who count]. But we'll keep trying."