KUALA LUMPUR (VN) — UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling riders wasted little time wondering ‘what could have been’ with what they felt were missed opportunities at the 22nd edition of Le Tour de Langkawi.
Instead, the team turned its attention toward delivering Colombian climber Daniel Jaramillo into the top five on general classification and American sprinter Travis McCabe to his second stage win of the race — his third of the season on Wednesday.
In both instances, the UHC plan paid off.
“The plan today was to get some seconds with Jaramillo,” said UHC sports director Hendrik Redant. “The start of the race was pretty hard, and I knew that climb was going to be steep. I was looking at it and said you have to try and see what happens but it all split up and at that point I had my fastest guy in the break and I said, ‘Hey, we are going to ride.’”
While Jaramillo, 26, rode into fourth overall, McCabe, 27, took advantage of a split field to capture the eighth and final stage in fine fashion on Wednesday.
The Tucson native, who also capped a win earlier in the week over the longest stage (208.1km) of the race, beat Australian Anthony Giacoppo (IsoWhey Sports-SwissWellness) and Italian Riccardo Stacchiotti (Nippo-Vini Fantini) at the finish line of the 121km day, which featured a six-lap, 6km loop to close the race in Putrajaya, Malaysia.
“That [stage 2] was the first time we got the lead-out together and we just got it perfectly, and that is how I won,” said McCabe after the race. “Today [Wednesday], was really great because Tanner [Putt] was on the front drilling it and that did put some pressure on me to win because when you see your friends and teammates killing themselves because they believe in you, it gives you that extra speed and determination.”
Stage 5 winner and overall leader Ryan Gibbons (Dimension Data) finished fourth to finalize his tour victory and reclaim the points jersey he lost a day earlier to Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina), who was caught in the latter half of a split field following the second of two categorized climbs to start the day.
With some of the race’s top sprinters out of contention, McCabe found himself with the upper hand, but with only one teammate to leading him out.
“I jumped with 300m to go, which is still early, but it was fast and I had to go when I had to go today,” he explained. “[Greg] Henderson was really the only guy to take care of me. He dropped me off second wheel with 300 to go, so I just punched it.”
Earlier in the week, McCabe told VeloNews “patience” was the biggest lesson he was taking on board since joining his new team after a year with Holowesko-Citadel. Today, he said those lessons are starting to pay off.
“Patience-wise, I know where it really contributed was on the climb,” claimed McCabe. “I stayed calm. Usually I see a group go and I want to jump across and be in that group, but today I saw the split. I saw the yellow jersey had six guys with him, so I knew ‘OK, I am in this group. Let’s just ride it out and stay calm.’ They brought it back, and I was able to save it for the sprint.”
McCabe now returns home to prepare for his next block of racing after starting his season in Australia at the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race (1.UWT) on January 29, followed by the Herald Sun Tour (2.1), where McCabe picked up his first win of the season — the second of his career after winning stage 4 at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah (2.HC) last year.
“The next big race will be Tour of California, that is the one I am focusing on,” said McCabe. “We have some criteriums, Tour of the Gila, Redlands.
“I’ll go home and have about a month to train, work on the sprint and build up the aerobic base again,” he continued.
“Really, the focus is on California. I want to be going even better there, I want to take what I learned from this race and use it in the bigger races and try to get a win at the WorldTour level now.”