Tour de Langkawi: Little respect shown to Gibbons on first day in yellow

Dimension Data race leader happy to finish stage 3 upright

On paper, the short and flat stage 3 of the 2017 Tour de Langkawi wasn't one to trouble a fast finisher like Ryan Gibbons, particularly with the race leader's yellow jersey on his shoulders.

However, Gibbon's maiden day in yellow, just nine days into his professional career, proved to be a baptism by fire for the 22-year-old. After his podium results to open the eight-day tour, the Dimension Data rider was a favourite for the stage, but he explained to Cyclingnews he was simply content to finish the day upright after a tough day in the saddle.

"I am taking it as experience. Realistically, I am just glad I didn't crash," Gibbons told Cyclingnews after he finished in 15th place. "Scott [Sunderland] came and had a chat with me after the stage and said he was on my wheel and saw me nearly get pushed onto a motorbike. With about 400 metres to go, a guy from Nippo nearly took me out as well. Disappointed not to get a result but just glad I am upright and retaining the jersey for another day."

While disappointed with the result, Gibbons explained he was also surprised by how he was treated in the peloton. Adding that he believed the leader's jersey should be given greater respect.

"I think subconsciously there is a lot of pressure that goes with it. Everyone's eyes are on you the whole time, everything is noticed by the other riders and by the motorbike," he said. "I had the camera on me the majority of the ride. It is very, very special though. Usually, I notice in Europe that the yellow jersey does get a lot of respect and today, you almost had to assert it. In the end no one was giving me a wheel. That is fine, that is racing,but if this was Europe, I would have had less close calls than what I did in the final."

Despite his stressful first day in the leader's jersey, Gibbons did enough to keep yellow ahead of the race's queen stage up Cameron Highlands. Climbers Mekseb Debesay and Ben O'Connor are Dimension Data's men for the climb, where Gibbons is all but assured to lose the lead.

Depending on his result up the climb, Gibbons could well work his way back into the leader's jersey by picking up time bonuses on offer at the intermediate sprint points and finish line. First, though, Gibbons is hoping for a calmer day with a little more respect shown his way.


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