South-African rider Willie Smit nearly won the seventh stage in the Tour de Langkawi. He formed part of an early breakaway of three riders that made it heroically all the way to the line.
In the final sprint, Smit was beaten by one GC rider, who was the only one capable of bridging the gap from the chasing groups to the front.
Completely out of breath, Smit went down to the ground after finishing the seventh stage, before preparing for the podium ceremony, to celebrate his silver medal.
It was moments before that when Smit raised his right arm in the air, knowing he had lost a golden opportunity for a stage victory to a WorldTour-rider to be (Sjoerd Bax joins the UAE Team next season), who beat the world’s best climbers in a one-day race in Italy earlier this year.
Therefore, it was not a shame that the China Glory Cycling cyclist lost the sprint, however, moments after the finish, Smit was left laying on the ground disappointed.
“It was such a tactical race”, the strongest rider of the original breakaway said. “Especially in the final. I needed my breakaway companions, as we were only with the three of us in the beginning, however, I also knew that if Bax would join our break, winning would be an even bigger challenge.”
“I am disappointed, of course, but also proud that I got so close. I liked to try my luck today, after yesterday’s stage in which I also lasted long in the final after my breakaway attempt."
Smit believes the joy in the sport and the team is the secret to keep being motivated to race. “We are in this team enjoying the sport and competition. Our common goal is to develop Chinese cyclists, a cause that everyone enjoys in this team. I hope this attempt will convince Chinese cyclists, whether they are already in the team or about to join next year, to also try to go for victories.”