After a relatively quiet start to the year Wesley Sulzberger was pleasantly surprised to find himself sitting in fourth-overall after the first hill-top stage at Tour de Langkawi. Sulzberger hadn't planned to be in Malaysia for the 10-day race but is content with his form and excited about his GC prospects ahead of the critical stage to Genting Highlands.
The Orica GreenEdge squad, like a number of the other teams at Langkawi, has more than one rider sitting in contention for the overall title with Pieter Weening in seventh on GC just two-seconds behind his Australian teammate.
Sulzberger has the experience of having raced Langkawi twice in the past and while he hadn't intended to be fighting amongst the other GC riders, he now finds himself in with a chance if he can remain with the best climbers up the Hors Category Genting Highlands climb - which comes on Stage 5.
"I wasn't originally meant to be doing Langkawi," said Sulzberger who replaced Thomas Vaitkus in the six-man squad.
"It's worked out well as it's pretty cold in Europe at the moment. I've done this race twice before in 2007 and 2008 and I sort of now how the terrain is. Genting is going to be pretty solid from how I remember it," he told Cyclingnews.
"I was a little bit surprised yesterday with how good my legs are with not that much racing. I did the racing in Mallorca and the national championships in Australia. I'm happy with how things are going and would like to get up there and give it a good go on Genting.
"I haven't had a lot of racing but judging off yesterday if the break hadn't been away I would have finished second and would be in second overall at the moment."
The final outcome atop Genting Highlands will be highly dependant on the unknown quantity that is current race leader Meiyin Wang (Hengxiang Cycling Team). Wang has around three and a half minutes on a group of 25 riders, not forgetting the Colombian Julian Arredondo from Nippo - De Rosa who lies in second overall.
"I think for Wang, he's probably burned a few bikkie's and it'll be on from the start of Genting straight away," explained Sulzberger.
"Heading into the climb I think we are going to see teams leading it out and making sure its a really fast pace early on, just to try and blow this guy [Wang] up. I think the biggest danger will be the Nippo rider [Arredondo], the Colombian who's in second-place overall.
"I think we've got a good chance with Pieter Weening. He's in good form so I'll be trying to help him and stay up there myself as well," he said.
Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription
Try your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1
Thank you for signing up to Cycling News. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.