By Jean-François Quénet in Genting Highlands, Malaysia
Fuji-Servetto's Frederik Kessiakoff surprised with his fourth place finish at the top of the gruelling and mythical climb of Genting Highlands at the Tour de Langkawi. However, the 28-year-old rookie was one of the world's best mountain bikers until he switched to road cycling after representing Sweden at the Beijing Olympics.
"In many ways, that's what I hoped for," he said. "I had high expectations, but I also have to be realistic. To be a climber in cycling is something special. Friday's race somehow proves that what I've done in mountain biking is valid also for me as a road rider.
Kessiakoff moved to the road under the influence of compatriot Gustav Erik Larsson, who took the silver medal in Beijing in the time trial.
"I also have to thank Daniele Nardello who I often train with", he said. "He pushed the management of the Fuji-Servetto team to hire me. It was gamble for them. They didn't know what they were getting. At the age of 28, I don't have many years for learning the job."
Kessiakoff lives in Stabio, Switzerland. The village is home to another famous mountain biker who into a road rider – Cadel Evans.
"He's a great inspiration for me. So is Michael Rasmussen, if you look at his riding style. Dario Cioni is another rider who made the transition very well."
He has found what best suits him on the road. The Tour de Langkawi, with the mythical climb of Genting Highlands, was a good starting point for Kessiakoff.
In my case, it's different because I've raced a lot on the road when I was young because I wanted to push myself and I found the mountain bike events too easy."
Kessiakoff will start in Evans' usual races, such as the Coppi-Bartali and the País Vasco prior to lining up in the Amstel Gold Race in April.