Friday, February 24, 2012

Dave Zabriskie smokes the field in opening time trial

As expected, pre-stage favourite David Zabriskie (Garmin-Barracuda) took out the opening 20.3 kilometre time trial at Le Tour de Langkawi on Friday with a time of 0:24:34.18. Zabriskie now wears the first yellow jersey of the 2012 stage race.

Roman Van Uden (New Zealand) was the first man out of the start house but it was his cross-Tasman rivals who set the day's benchmarks for the heavy hitters like Zabriskie and teammate Tom Danielson to chase.

Drapac's Darren Lapthorne stopped the clock at 0:25:44.85 before teammate Adam Phelan set the new best time of 0:25:34.48. Langkawi marks Phelan's first race since a severe concussion in December while on a team training camp ruled him out of the Australian Road Championships and the New Zealand Cycle Classic. Admitting that his time in the hot seat may have be limited with Zabriskie and Danielson yet to start, the 20-year-old could never have imagined that his time would stand for as long as it did.

Last March, Phelan won the prologue time trial at the Tour of Taiwan but he admitted that the 20.3km distance on Friday was a new frontier: "I had no experience with 20km time trials," he said.

Joe Cooper (New Zealand) moved into third position with his effort but soon after Zabriskie had left the start house and had set a new best time of 11:25 at the first time check. At the halfway mark, the US National Time Trail champion was just over half a minute up on Phelan and the podium was set for the slightest of re-shuffles.

Danielson could only manage fourth, ensuring the Australian pair would flank Zabriskie on the podium.

"I am very happy to wear the yellow jersey," Zabriskie said following his win. "Today I was fine, I was excited to start my 2012 with a time trial. The course suited me and the roads were great, I had no references in the race lap times, I went by instinct. It is always nice to win, I'm happy."

Stage 2 of the Le Tour de Langkawi continues on Saturday with a 151km sprint stage from Putrajaya to Melaka.

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