By Greg Johnson in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
EQA-Meitan Hompo- Graphite Design found the attacking style it's traditionally known for at the Tour of Langkawi on Stage 4, after a quiet few days at the Malaysian race. Until yesterday's stage the squad had only attacked once in the opening three stages.
"This year for the opening stages we've tried to look after our sprinter," said Shinichi Fukushima. "He has tried every time but not been able to get there."
The reason behind the squad's quieter presence at this year's race comes down to the loss of Koji Fukushima, according to his brother. Koji retired from professional cycling at the end of last season, however Shinichi hinted earlier in the week he may return to racing next year.
"We don't have Koji – he was always on the attack," he said.
Fukushima lived up to his word on the fourth stage, becoming a key player in the day's main breakaway after several attempts to start a move. The Japanese rider is hoping to be more active on Saturday's Stage 6, despite being hampered by his condition.
"I think maybe there I have a chance, also on the last day," he said. "Normally I stay in Thailand for training over the [northern] winter so I come here with a little advantage for the hot days. This year I stayed in Japan, training in the wind and a little cold, so this year my condition is a little low."