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American David Zabriskie (Garmin Barracuda) is the tour leader after the opening stage individual time trial in Putrajaya on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.
Garmin-Barracuda get off to perfect start in Langkawi
David Zabriskie has started the 2012 season on a high note with a large margin of one minute over runner up Adam Phelan from Drapac in the 20.3km opening time trial of Le Tour de Langkawi.
“It feels pretty good to be a winner again”, he said after the winners’ presentation in the middle of the Malaysian ministries and the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya. “I didn’t know what to expect but looking at the course and the smooth pavement, I was pretty excited. I didn’t really have confirmation of the times until the race was over.”
“One minute difference is quite a lot, it makes three seconds per kilometer,” noted Garmin-Barracuda sporting director Allan Peiper. “David was motivated. He turned his mind on before the race. His fast start probably made a big difference. It was a course to use a big power gear.” Zabriskie covered the stage at an average speed of 49.57km/h.
“David and [fourth placed] Tom [Danielson] have missed the training camp in Calpe [Spain], but today is evidence that they have worked well on their own,” Peiper added. “I was in California for most of the off-season and the atmosphere at training was good.”
Both Zabriskie and Danielson, who finished the 2011 season at the Canadian races in Quebec and Montreal, didn’t attend any events in Europe and flew directly to Malaysia, a country of which Zabriskie said: “I knew that it was pretty far away. We have to get used to the heat. I prefer the heat myself.”
“In the last couple of years, Canada was the last race for many American riders”, said Peiper, who previously ran the race programs for HTC-Highroad. “It may be different this year with the Tour of Lombardy being close to the world championship. It’s something new for riders to start at the very end of February, far away from Europe, but apart from the favorable weather, it also has to do with the financial state of professional races in Europe. The Santos Tour Down Under, Qatar, Oman and Le Tour de Langkawi are good alternatives. It was a good choice for us to come back to Malaysia, it’s a good thing for the future too.”
The near future for Garmin-Barracuda will be to defend Zabriskie’s lead or bring Danielson to his second overall win after 2003 when he raced for Saturn. “I didn’t think that Rujano could time trial so fast”, said Peiper of the Venezuelan, who only conceded nine seconds to Danielson. “It’ll be up to Tom to show what he can do in Genting.” At this stage, Rujano appears like the hot favourite for the overall win but he still has to regain 1.26 on Zabriskie.
“We’re a team and we’re here to win the race”, Zabriskie stated. “It’s my first time here, so I don’t know what Genting is like but I’m climbing better than last year.”