By Anthony Tan in Genting Highlands, Malaysia
A solid ride to Cameron Highlands four days ago has seen 22 year-old Jonathon Clarke the best-placed rider on his SouthAustralia.com-AIS team, currently in 20th position on the overall classification.
That stage provided a good indication of his potential to reach his goal of a top-10 finish, given he was one of a number who suffered from a bout of diarrhoea the night before. "I was happy with my ride," said Clarke, "although I was looking to get in the break that day, but with the diarrhoea, that wasn't possible.
"I've had it before when I went to China for Qinghai Lake; it just seems to be one of those things at these races - you get it, it goes through you, and then you're back to normal."
Speaking with Cyclingnews on the eve of the crucial stage to Genting, the diminutive though tenacious rider says now that his bowels are back in order, he's quietly confident on his chances tomorrow. During the off-season, Clarke says he's been working a lot on his climbing - which was evidenced by his eighth place at the Australian road championships in Ballarat, Victoria, held on a very hilly parcours - and while admitting it's hard to train for a 17 kilometre-long monster of a climb, climbing is what he's good at.
"I'd really like to get a top-10 on GC. The last couple of days have been fairly easy, but with the wind, you still have to be on the ball, and the legs have felt good. I'm feeling fairly confident... yeah, I'm confident," Clarke said, reassuring himself, also motivated by the fact that 11 years ago, countryman Damian McDonald won the inaugural edition of this race, at the 1996 Tour de Langkawi.
"For sure, that motivates me, but right now, the whole team is motivated," he said.