The Tour de Langkawi represents an early milestone in the nascent career of Colombian Sebastian Henao. Despite being just 21 years of age, the Colombian has been entrusted with team leadership at the Malaysian race.
Speaking to Cyclingnews at the teams’ hotel, he was keenly aware of the significance of the eight days ahead.
“Being in a top team and having leadership in a race is a big moment for me,” he said. “Being a leader at such an early stage fills me with satisfaction. The team has put its faith in me and I want to take full advantage of this opportunity.”
“I was really happy with my performance at the Giro d’Italia last year [22nd at his debut Grand Tour]. That gave me a lot of confidence, more skills and helped me to get to know my body better in stage races, and how to.
“Here I know that I’ve got teammates around me who are strong in the mountains, they will give me great support and put me in a position to fight.”
Should he do well here in Malaysia, Henao would be following a path well-trodden by his compatriots. Colombia seems to have a special affinity with the race, boasting three of the past six winners, and along with Venezuela have made sure that only twice since 2002 has no South American made the podium.
“The Tour de Langkawi is a race I have followed in the past because lots of Colombians have done well here,” said Henao. “If I could win it would be fantastic for me, it would give me a lot of pride and would be a great boost ahead of the important races coming up. It would mean a lot for the team and also in terms of my career.”