Adam de Vos' Rally Cycling teammates call him the 'Sneaky Fox', and in Kuala Terengganu he showed why. The Canadian kept his cool and wits about him in the 160km breakaway on stage 3 of the Tour de Langkawi before making his winning move for a solo win.
The 24-year-old Canadian repeated the success of compatriots Brian Walton in 1997 and Rally sports director Eric Wohlberg in 1999 in taking a stage of the Tour de Langkawi in the coastal city. But he did so via a rare breakaway that stayed to the line for victory at the Malaysian race.
"My teammates sometimes call me the 'Sneaky Fox', so I guess I lived up to it today," De Vos told Europort and Cyclingnews after the stage. "I wasn't even sure I could continue the race after hitting the deck [on stage 1], but I am glad I did. I surprised myself a bit with the legs yesterday on the climb. It came back together, but I knew that was a good test. Today, I just decided to go in the breakaway and it worked out very well."
De Vos hit the right notes in his press conference as he dissected the victory, was quizzed on the previous Canadian winners at the race, explained the origins of his name - via his Dutch father - and the fox tattoo on his inner left forearm.
However, speaking to Cyclingnews on his way to anti-doping after the press conference, De Vos admitted he was still in a state of shock at having taken the win and a commanding race lead.
"I don't know. I am happy, but maybe I will keep getting happy. It was a really fun day, and when I realised I was going to take the win I was just ecstatic," De Vos said when asked if the win had sunk in.
In Eric Young, Rally has brought a fast finisher to Langkawi, and on a stage that featured no classified climbs the sprint looked to be an iron-clad guarantee. Rally director Eric Wohlberg explained as much to Cyclingnews.
"I'll be honest with you, we planned a sprint today," Wohlberg told Cyclingnews. "We talked about if the moves are big going up the road with two or three guys we are not going to worry about. But once you start getting 10-11 guys, we are going to cover that."
As an insurance policy, De Vos jumped in the break on a day that would be decided by a real opportunist and assisted by a peloton unsure of how dangerous De Vos can be.
"We still want to play off what the other big teams are going to do, but there is always an opportunity there and we are going to take it. It is also a bit of safety policy," he said of placing riders in the breakaway. "The move went, and I think there was some miscalculating from the bigger teams back there and we were able to capitalise on it so we are psyched."
It wasn't just Wohlberg's past experiences and strategy that propelled De Vos into a winning position, as the British Columbian described.
"I have to say that my old teammate Will Routley taught me a lot about riding in breakaways, and I learned some things that I used today." De Vos said.
Now the race leader with a number of pre-race favourites over one minute in arrears on the GC, De Vos is well placed for the win or podium. To hold on for what would be a win against the odds, and De Vos will need to put in another cunning ride come stage 5 to Cameron Highlands.
"I know there can be a big group at the end, so I am going to recover the next day and give it my all on the climb there," he said of the queen stage. "I am going to ride as hard as I can up the climb, and if I lose the jersey I will be disappointed but I am still happy with a stage win."
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