Tour de Langkawi, 2002 - Stage 1 (ITT)
Hola! This and the next journal will be on my experiences when I was involved in the recent Tour de Langkawi 2002 event. The tour started on the 1st of February at Putrajaya and ends in Kuala Lumpur on the 10th of February. It's a gruesome 10 days tour. Besides, it is also the richest tour around the asian continent.

My involvement in this year's tour started back in Adelaide when I was still studying. I got to know a guy by the name Michele (Mi-khe-leh) from a local bike shop. Coincidentally, I was wearing my TdL 2001 t-shirt during my visit there and because of that we started talking about the tour. I was delighted to know that he was a mechanic with the Selle-Italia Pacific team for the past 2 years at TdL and later on, he offered to give me a ride in the team car during the 2002 tour.

Actually, I was suppose to follow them around for the entire 10 days. Unfortunately, something crept up and I could only do the Stage 1 Time-Trial and the Penultimate Stage 9!

Stage 1 was carried out in Putrajaya. Prior to that stage, arrangement was made that I'll go with the second team car and lead the way to Putrajaya. That is indeed my very first trip there and thank God we went the right way! Otherwise...... =)

Anyway, when we reached there, the place was already pretty crowded with other team cars and officials getting everything in place to kick-start the tour at about half-past three. We parked the cars and set up the bikes so that the riders can request for last-minute adjustments if there's any.

7 riders from every team will have a chance to race against the clock. The fastest man will get the privillege to don the yellow jersey for the first few flat stages. To top it off, I was even surprised when the team manager - Marco, allowed me to drive the second team car so that Michele can stand-by for flats along the way. I had to follow three riders for that stage - Andris Nauduz, Juan Ramirez and Ruber Marin.

I was also responsible to give all of em' a couple of beeps along the way to motivate them as well as firing out alerts when there's a rider chasing closely. Especially when they are heading for climbs. Andris did okie overall but Ramirez and Marin did very much better. They picked up the guys from Phillipines who started ahead of them. These guys are so experience that they made use of the opponent's team car to get a slight slip-stream behind going in for the kill.

Besides, I was also told to hold back until the gap was big enough between the 2 riders before I close in. This is because if I move in as soon as they overtake, the Phillipine guys may in return sit on our team car's wheel to gain similar advantage. Therefore, it is also very important to have an experience driver for the team cars.

We packed up quickly and headed back to Grand Blue Wave Hotel right after our last rider returns so that the riders will have sufficient time to rest and the team mechanics will be able to fine tune the bikes for the upcoming stages. It was indeed a fantastic experience for me! And I looking forward to the Penultimate Stage a.k.a The Decisive Stage for Maillot Jaune.

~ Vince

p/s: more pictures at the gallery