While the list of riders to enjoy a stage win in their hometown or region is rather long, not many have raised their arms in triumph in a location that shares their name. Cameron Bayly came close on the queen stage of the 2017 Tour de Langkawi to Cameron Highlands but in the end he was beaten by Dimension Data's Mekseb Debesay.
While Cameron missed out on winning in Cameron, the IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness rider now occupies second place on the general classification. Just 11 seconds behind Dimension Data's Ryan Gibbons.
"It is always good to get the win but second place is pretty good in a HC race. It is probably one of my bigger results so far," Bayly told Cyclingnews.
While a long climb, the road up Cameron Highlands is undulating and for the majority of the peloton it proved to be deceptive with steep pitches quickly followed by small descents and flats. In the aggressive finale, Bayly explained that he and teammate Chris Harper where dropped by the front group and only just managed to rejoin the leaders.
"When we got back on, it eased off and it was attack, slow down, attack. Maybe a kay and a half to go, I decided to hit it and got a gap before Debesay came with me and then it was a sprint between the two of us at the finish," he said of the final.
Three years on from his debut at the Malaysian stage race, the 26-year-old was the best of the three riders from the Australian Continental team inside the top 10. With Harper and Tim Roe also impressing on the climb, the squad sit equal top of the team classification with Dimension Data. No mean feat on its debut at the race.
"For a pretty small budget team, it is very well run team and very professionally run. Everyone in the team creates a good atmosphere and it breeds success," said Bayly of the team that also won the first stage via Scott Sunderland.
Having come close to joining Australia's premier Continental squad in previous year's, Bayly has been an instant hit with the squad from day one at the Bay Crits. Considered stiff to miss out on a ride at the Tour Down Under after his fourth place in the Australian national road race, Bayly responded by finishing 14th at a particularly hilly Herald Sun Tour. Having shown glimpses of his potential since 2014, Bayly is putting together a consistent run of results and its all down to the new team as he explains.
"To come on board this team, I have kind of felt there is a little pressure off my shoulders and all I need to worry about now is racing my bike and having fun doing it," said a smiling Bayly. "I think that has been a big difference with the team and the best thing is is that there are so many good riders on the team. So even if you are having a bad day, there is someone who is going to be going really well and you don't feel useless in the team. You can help them out."
Last November, Bayly was on the cusp of victory at the Tour of Taihu Lake where stage 3 victory put him into the leader's jersey. However, a crash on the final day saw him drop to 18th on the standings. In Malaysia, Bayly is hoping similar bad luck doesn't befall him, taking an aggressive approach into the second half of the race dreaming of clinching an upset victory.
"There is plenty of bonus seconds in the GC and its still really close so we'll see what we can do," he said.
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