Raisin' hell in Malaysia

By Anthony Tan in Kuala Lumpur Well not quite, according to the mild-mannered 23 year-old American...

By Anthony Tan in Kuala Lumpur

Well not quite, according to the mild-mannered 23 year-old American with Credit Agricole, even though that's what stitched around the heel of his custom-made Rocket7 shoes.

2006 marks Saul Raisin's second trip to the tropics to contest the Le Tour de Langkawi, the second-year professional appearing to cope quite well in the heat after coming back from a training ride midday Thursday. "Oh, it's like home in Georgia!" he smiled.

"Summer in Georgia, the hottest days we have are like this, so it's just like home," said Raisin, whose attention suddenly turned to the imposing Shah Alam mosque directly across the road, where prayers could be heard inside the hotel. "Well, sort of... "

Asked what condition he's come to the race in, the mountains winner from the 2005 Tour de l'Avenir said he's not quite sure, even though he feels better prepared than before. "Compared to last year, I'm stronger. I'm older, I've got a year of racing in Europe - so I think I'm coming here better than I was last year, but how much better, that's a good question. I haven't tested myself on any climbs, so we'll have to find out."

Straight after the conclusion of the race, Raisin and his Credit Agricole team of three years (he was an espoir in his first year) fly out to race the inaugural Tour of California. However, he's not expecting anything huge there, either, as the season's first Grand Tour is top of mind.

"This year my objective is the Giro, so I'm going to try and reserve everything till the Giro. I want to do well in all my races, but I just have to use the form I have and see how far I can take it," he said.

Photography from the teams presentation

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Shane Goss/www.licoricegallery.com

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