by Aaron S. Lee

Adam de Vos
Photo: Mokhriz Aziz

According to members of Rally Cycling, the US-registered UCI Professional Continental team did everything they could to defend the yellow leader’s jersey on the back of Stage 3 winner Adam de Vos at the 23rd Le Tour de Langkawi (UCI 2.HC) on Thursday.

However, the Category 1 and Hors Catégorie climbs entering the Cameron Highlands proved too hard for the battered and bruised 24-year-old British Columbian, who is still nursing severe skin abrasions from an opening stage crash.

De Vos crossed the line after completing 169.5 kilometres 3 minutes 34 seconds behind stage winner Artem Ovechkin (Terengganu Cycling Team), who now assumes what could be an unassailable lead on general classification (GC) with just three sprint stages remaining.

“We knew it was going to be a tough ask with my condition and then just riding in the breakaway, but hats off to the other teams that put it to us and were able to drop me,” De Vos told Canadian Cycling Magazine while still seated on the pavement following the hilltop finish. “I was suffering early on the climb, but I had my awesome teammates around me so I rallied a bit, and just when it kicked up there in the last 6 km or so I was cracking a bit and that’s when they got away.”

Last year’s Joe Martin Stage Race stage winner and 2016 Amgen Tour of California stage runner up was disappointed but pragmatic about his drop on GC.

“For sure it’s disappointing, but me and my teammates did everything we could and they all rode awesome for me and I don’t think I have anything to be too disappointed about,” said the 24-year-old. “We still have a few stages for the sprints for Eric [Young].”

American Kyle Murphy, who piloted de Vos to the line, gave props to his physically spent teammate sitting on the ground just a few feet away.

“Adam really earned the support of the whole team this week and I am really proud of his effort today,” Murphy said. “We have already surpassed our expectations here and I am pumped.”

According to Murphy, de Vos’s success is no fluke.

“It just shows how hard everyone works and how much we care,” he explained. “We had a really long, tough trip in Europe. Adam raced Valenciana (2.1), flew to Oman, raced Oman (2.HC), and we raced a few one days here and there and he showed his tenacity there in the breakaways.

“Riding that break on Stage 3 and winning it was no accident,” Murphy continued. “He put in all the work in all those breakaways in all those races we did in Europe and the Middle East, and it finally paid off and he is over the moon.

“The team stepping up to Pro Conti gives us the opportunity to do those harder races so when we come here we are ready to race.”

Murphy was not the only one to heap praise.

Rally Cycling
Photo: Mokhriz Aziz

“Kyle is definitely one of my best friends on the team here and he is always super positive and it goes a long way to keep the morale up,” said de Vos. “To have 15 teammates, even the ones that are not here, encouraging us is an awesome environment to be in.”

Team sports director and three-time Canadian Olympic cyclist Eric Wohlberg, who himself is a former Langkawi stage winner, agrees with Murphy’s assessment of de Vos, as well as the former race leader’s take on the team and the remaining stages despite losing Canadian champion Matteo Dal-Cin, who did not finish the stage.

“The guys were totally 100 per cent behind Adam today,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a challlenge for him, but he just went as hard as he could and you can’t ask any more than that. Adam is a tough kid and he continues to prove why he is such a valuable asset to this team.

“There are still a couple of different ways for opportunities to open for us and we are not done fighting yet.”

Aaron S. Lee (@aaronshanelee) is a cycling and triathlon columnist for Eurosport and a guest contributor to Canadian Cycling Magazine.

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