It has been four years since Wong Kam Po last rode in Le Tour de Langkawi, but that doesn't mean the 32 year-old most successful rider in Hong Kong's history has slowed down one bit. Kam Po comes into the 12th edition of Le Tour de Langkawi as the reigning Asian Games road race champion and after outdoing himself to win a bunch sprint in the recent Jelajah Malaysia, proving he has added versatility to his profile. (Read Cyclingnews' recent interview with Kam Po Wong.)
Being the first and only Asian stage winner in Le Tour de Langkawi when he won the Cameron Highlands stage in 2000, Kam Po makes his return with the new Hong Kong pro cycling team this time around. "It's been four years since I last rode Le Tour de Langkawi. Normally, I want to do this race every year, because it is the best in Asia and it is the only one really from Asia that people in Europe focus on. Usually, European top pro cyclists don't come and race in Asia, so for Asian riders, it's very good to do Le Tour de Langkawi," said Kam Po.
"My team from Hong Kong wasn't good enough to take part in the race and in the recent past years, I couldn't come with a mixed team. But this year, the Hong Kong pro cycling team is very happy to be invited. All of my teammates are very young, under 22, but they are improving a lot."
During Jelajah Malaysia, the Hong Kong riders were very active all the times and very helpful to their leader who won a stage finishing in a bunch sprint in Taiping.
So far in the 12-year history of Tour de Langkawi, Kam Po is the only Asian who has won a significant stage beating top teams like Farm Frites, and top climbers like Giro winner Evgeni Berzin when he won the Cameron Highlands stage in 2000. Some people might have thought his best days were behind him but he proved them wrong when he won the Asian Games road race in Doha.
"That win made me very happy," he said. "I was very surprised. I only thought I could maybe reach the top three if I could perform well but I didn't think about the gold medal before the race. But I had a great day."
He has done the Asian Games four times. He was fourth in Hiroshima in 1994, he won in Bangkok in 1998, came third in 2002 in Busan and won again in Doha in 2006.
"The cycling community knew me mostly for what I've done in Le Tour de Langkawi. But then I've changed my role in cycling and I've spent more time and energy on the track. People said I was no longer good for the road," said Kam Po. "My crucial year was 2000, when I was a climber in Tour de Langkawi. I won the last sprint of the points race at the Olympics in Sydney in September then finished the professional world championship road race in Plouay, France," said Kam Po.
"I went racing as an amateur in France last year for three months before the Asian Games. It was difficult because I had to do everything by myself with no support but I enjoyed it. I got four wins.
"I took some rest after Doha and I built my form step by step in order to be at my best for Tour de Langkawi but I can't ride for GC anymore because I can't go up the mountains very well anymore, probably after all the work I've done on the track I turned into kind of a sprinter, but my team will try their best for getting a top five in the overall team competition.
"Since I won in Doha, the Hong Kong Government became very supportive to all cyclists. They have even decided to build an indoor velodrome. I hope to remain involved in the sport when I stop my career, but before that, I'll give another try in the Olympics in Beijing."
The Hong Kong pro cycling team for Tour de Langkawi: Kam Po Wong, King Wai Cheung, Kai Tsun Lam, Wang Yip Tang, Chun Hing Chan and Kin San Wu.