The weight of expectation proved no hindrance to Blanco sprinter Theo Bos who pulled on the first race leader's jersey at the Tour de Langkawi after taking out the opening stage with a long-range sprint into Kulim. Bos was clearly confident coming into the sprint and opened his charge to the line earlier than expected having noticed a gap behind him after the final corner.
The cause for Bos' early jump and anticipation to do so was largely in part due to the hard work carried out by his Blanco teammates and his final man Graeme Brown's.
Bos arrived for his debut at the Malaysian race after a recent string of early-season results at Volta as Algarve just the week prior. The Blanco sprinter won Stage 2 and wore the race leader's jersey for a day and came into the 10-stage race with plenty of confidence.
"I think it's really important [to win]. There was good competition even if it wasn't the best race for me. It was pretty hilly but I think it gives me a lot of confidence. The first stage I finished third, my teammate won and I could have won. I won the second stage. It gave me great confidence winning on a hard stage like that and a good feeling for this race. I'm happy I can continue winning."
While he took his first stage win in a seemingly comfortable fashion, the 29-year-old was hesitant to suggest he would achieve a similar feat to Andrea Guardini (Astana) who holds the record at Langkawi with 11 stage wins.
"I know Brownie won a lot of stages and Andrea also. I don't know what the competition was like over the past few years but hopefully I can repeat this tradition," said Bos.
"But I think it will be difficult to do that," he added.
"Today, luckily everything went to us. We have a good team and made it happen. It's going to be difficult to do this every race. We have to try and see. Every day is new and of course, more would be nice but I think there will be other sprinters winning here as well."
While Bos remained humble after his stage win, his crushing blow delivered to the other sprinters was no fluke. The partnership with Brown is something which a lot of the other sprint teams lack, according to Bos and he expects the two will spend a lot more time together this season. Brown was the former record holder for the most stage wins at Langkawi, having amassed 9 wins from 2002-2005, before Guardini overtook the Australia last year.
"It's always hard to say 'yeah I expect [to win]'. I never expect to win easy and we have a lot of respect for our opponents and we look if they are in good shape and what team they have.
"Brownie is helping me but also helping [Mark] Renshaw. Mark and I are the two main sprinters in the team and sometimes he's in my squad and sometimes he's in Mark's squad. He has a lot of experience and we have a lot of experience together - which is important for sprinters. We are going to work together a lot this year."
With Bos not expected to retain the yellow jersey past Stage 3, tomorrow offers up the next opportunity for success. The plan for the coming stage, a short 117.8km route, was a simple one.
"We try to make it a bunch sprint. Hopefully we can repeat what we did today again. That would be perfect."
Blanco will have to tackle the 560m, Cat2 climb in tomorrow's stage before thinking about setting up the sprint victory. The climb tops out just before the 50km point, leaving just under 70km to pull back anyone hoping to upset the sprinter's day.
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