Redant rues missed sprint chances for UnitedHealthcare at Tour de Langkawi
Directeur sportif believes team are better than its one win suggests
The 2017 season has started brightly for UnitedHealthcare with stage wins at the Herald Sun Tour and Tour de Langkawi via its newly assembled lead-out train. While the Australian opener had limited chances for stage wins, the Malaysian stage race offers six bites of the cherry for the fast men.
Travis McCabe added to his Herald Sun Tour victory on stage 2 of the Tour de Langkawi, but the team's directeur sportif Hendrik Redant believes the results haven't quite matched the performances.
"We had ambitions for more than one stage win and also we wanted to do something in the general with Daniel Jarmillo. But honestly, on the Cameron Highlands climb we were not strong enough to break it up," Redant told Cyclingnews. "The goal is always to win one stage but in my heart, I came to win more.”
A secondary goal for the team during this early-season block has been to dial in their lead-out, headlined by new recruits, McCabe and Greg Henderson. While teams have commented on UnitedHealthcare's timing and precision in Malaysia, two cases of misfortune have arguably cost them at the pointy end.
Stage 5 of the race presented the team with a prime opportunity for a second stage win only for a moment of madness from Marco Benfatto (Androni) as the Italian bumped McCabe in the final. Benfatto would later be relegated to last place in the peloton for the act, having initially finished third.
"I didn't want to mention it, but we missed a possibility for first because he was well placed in the wheel of the leader who won the stage at that point," Redant said of the incident. "It's lucky that they didn't crash. I said to the manager that whatever you do you have to keep your hands on the handlebars."
McCabe was equally disappointed as he explained to Cyclingnews.
"I think that was one which cost me a win. I was on [race leader and stage winner Ryan] Gibbons' wheel when I got slung, and when you lose two kilometres an hour in the last 200 metres there is not much you can do," McCabe said. "I was pretty amazed that someone would hip sling me in the last 300 metres of a race. I was pretty infuriated by it but what can you do? It is bike racing."
It was Henderson though who appeared the most incensed by the situation as he told Cyclingnews the morning after the event.
"I don't know what he is thinking, who takes their hands off the handlebars with 200 metres to go. It is just cheating," Henderson explained. "200 metres to go it can be a rush of blood, adrenaline, all that shit going on. I don't think it was anything personal. The crazy thing was, he came up directly afterwards and apologised to Travis. It wasn't very nice because he said 'sorry, I thought you were Asian'. It's like dude, it shouldn't matter if you're Asian or not. You don't do it."
Stage 6 was also a testing affair as Henderson punctured with 1.4km to go, well and truly throwing a spanner in the works.
However, rather than crying over spilt milk, Redant is focused on learning from the misfortune and mistakes at the race and believes his riders will parlay their Langkawi experience into future victories.
"The purpose was to practise with the train, and I think we did that. The boys now know how to do it, when to do it, who has to do it, at what point, and now we just have to improvise when a thing happens like when Henderson flats," he explained. "How can we solve that?
"So it is sad that we only win one because we prepare well and the boys did great. I can only congratulate them because they worked hard and it's working as we wanted.”
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