There is still a mountain to climb even without Genting stage
KUALA LUMPUR: Riders bound for the Tour of Langkawi 2008 have regarded the Fraser’s Hill climb as “equally challenging” as the Genting climb with some expecting an open race when the Tour gets underway on Feb 9.
Some of the riders, who are now competing in the Tour Down Under, were of the opinion that the exclusion of Genting would not at all affect the excitement and competitiveness of the annual race.
For Credit Agricole’s new signing Simon Gerrans, despite Fraser’s Hill being at a lower level than Genting, he predicts tough challenges ahead.
“I’ve never done Genting before as this will be my first ride in the Tour. I’m not sure how it feels to ride in Genting but my teammates who have done Genting told me that it would be really really tough,” said Gerrans.
Gerrans added that despite the fact that Fraser’s Hill is not as steep as Genting, he is certain that the climb there would provide a different kind of challenge.
“This would certainly lead to keen competition and opens up the race a bit more. A lot of riders can now look forward to emerge as eventual champion as the level of competition is quite open,” he said.
Australian Matt Wilson, who will steer the new American outfit Team Type 1 said he last did the Tour 10 years ago with the Australian national team.
“There were no bad memories in Genting and I’m definitely looking forward to riding up to Fraser’s Hill.
“It opens up our chances of winning the race for my new team, and it avoids a situation where only one or three riders really stand a good chance of winning a hill climb stage,” said Wilson.
For Bouygeus Telekom’s Aurelien Clerc, the exclusion of Genting means there will be fewer reasons for sprinters to worry.
“For sprinters like me, there will be less worry about being able to make it to the top and in the stipulated time,” he said.
The Tour’s organising committee last Tuesday announced the change for the 2008 route, by replacing the landmark Genting climb with Fraser’s Hill for the penultimate stage on Feb 16.
The committee cited safety as the main reason as Genting will be experiencing busy and huge volume of traffic due to the Chinese New Year celebration which on Feb 7th and 8th.