As the crosswinds picked up off the South China Sea and split the Tour de Langkawi peloton into three groups with 30km to race on stage 4, Callum Scotson (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) seized the moment and launched a move for the stage win. The Australian held on until inside the final kilometre to Pekan before being swept up by the bunch, eventually crossing the line in 80th place.
"It was a bit of crosswind in the last 30k and it split and then when it came back together there was a lot of attacks going," Scotson told Cyclingnews after cooling down. "The breakaway was just there and everyone was going but a lot of the big teams were marking each other. I just picked a moment when everybody seemed to sit up and I went. A couple of guys came with me but when they jumped on they sat up and I just kept going because I know persistence is the key in that sort of situation.
A three-time Australian U23 time trial champion, 21-year-old Scotson knew the level of effort required to take the win via solo move and while he fell short, there were no regrets.
"I just felt it out if I was going to get a gap and once I got pretty far, when they were in the distance, I thought I might as well have a crack and see what happens," he said. "They got it right and caught me right at the finish but it was worthwhile having a crack."
With Jacob Hennessy in the peloton ready for the sprint, Scotson was free to roll the dice in the bid for his first road win. In the end, Hennessy was eighth and Harry Sweeney kept his podium position ahead of the queen stage to Cameron Highlands. The team also has Yikui Niu sitting in ninth place overall, 1:27 minute down on race leader Adam De Vos (Rally).
"We will see what tomorrow holds for us. It is a big day and a decisive one. It was good we could get one step ahead with Harry. We can go in tomorrow and lay it all out there but with a bit of a head start," said Scotson.
The climb up Cameron Highlands will be Scotson's first mountain test of the 2018 road season having abandoned the Herald Sun Tour last month to ensure full fitness for the Track Worlds. In Apeldoorn, Scotson won bronze in the scratch race then teamed up with Cameron Meyer for silver in the Madison. Scotson will return to the track next month at the Commonwealth Games and explained he specifically requested to race the Tour de Langkawi to prepare for the quadrennial event.
"A big part of the reason why I wanted to come to this race was it gives you good preparation for that," he said. "I knew some good hard racing would set me up for Comm games."
For the present though, Scotson is focused on playing his role for the team and ensuring the Chinese-Australian Continental squad can continue to impress on its debut in Langkawi.