By Greg Johnson in Kuantan, Malaysia
As the Tour de Langkawi enters its penultimate stage on Saturday, 19 of the 136 riders that will line-up at the start in Temerloh tomorrow morning are in general classification contention. The problem is, however, nobody knows exactly what to expect from the race's 'Queen' stage.
Saturday's stage was always going to be decisive point in this year's race, however the eighth stage was turned on its head in late January when organizers announced the traditional climb to Genting Highlands would be replaced with the stage to Fraser Hill. Genting was removed from the event after organizers were informed that the owners would be unable to completely close the road up the infamous climb due to Chinese New Year celebrations.
Genting Highland's one year hiatus from the parcous sees riders faced with a new challenge in the form of the 130 kilometre stage to Fraser Hill, which has been seen by very few of the event's staff and even fewer team members. The unknown climb is a major anomaly in the outcome of this year's event, with the top 19's ability to conquer the climb difficult to measure with the little facts that are known about the climb.
In the group of 19 riders there are just two teams that have two cards to play on tomorrow's stage, which includes Team Type 1. While Team Type 1's Matthew Wilson is eight seconds down on race leader Mitchell Docker (Drapac-Porsche), and Glen Chadwick a further seven seconds adrift, the American squad will benefit simply by having two options on whatever comes of tomorrow's stage.
"Nobody really knows this climb so it's going to be hard to tell what to do," said Wilson on how the team will approach the stage. "We just have to play it by ear; we're in a great position though with two guys who can both climb."
To read the full preview of the Tour de Langkawi 'Queen' stage, click here.