Fans of professional cycling may not be able to identify with “Genting” as frequently as they might “Alpe d’Huez”. However, Genting invokes as much respect from riders as the famous hairpinned climb in France.
The 25km climb to Genting Highlands has been a centrepiece of Malaysia’s only 2.HC road cycling event since the first edition of Tour de Langkawi in 1996. Though the road is an impressive piece of civil engineering on its own, the resort it leads to is of a scale that almost defies belief when taking into account the topographical variations. The First World Hotel, one of five hotels within the resort’s 60km2 boundaries, holds the world record for most rooms (6118) – it services the popular casino and three theme parks, amongst other amenities.
Without the Genting stage, Tour de Langkawi would struggle to captivate the interest of cycling fans and media. The nine stages built around the queen stage are largely flat and often disjointed, requiring inconveniently long transfers. Strategically speaking, Genting is cleverly positioned at the apex of an excitement bell curve – the stages prior are a serviceable build-up, with the stages following a lengthy procession for the top three on general classification.
So how hard is the ascent up Genting?
At a technical level, television broadcasts now zoom closer into the facial manifestations of physical intensity than ever before; to the extent that riders can almost be seen to age during an especially demanding stage. This is how we gauge the extent of a rider’s exertion on the road; by the bags under their eyes, the fine lines etched into their foreheads and jawbone definition as their teeth clench.
This effect is amplified in the mountains as slower speeds enhance the proximity, hence intimacy, between cameraman and subject. Additionally, the challenge of accurately depicting gradient on screen means a rider’s face becomes the proxy.
To better understand – and this explains the absence of a stage report today – Cycling iQ took to the road on a bike; from the team hotel, to the start at Proton Centre of Excellence, Shah Alam and on to Genting Highlands. This meant losing touch completely with the race itself for the entire day.
Sadly, another assignment in Taiwan means leaving Tour de Langkawi prior to its conclusion. However, today’s flight will offer time to reflect on yesterday’s ride. I look forward to sharing the experience soon. [Note: for continued on-site coverage, I recommend visiting velonation.com – Shane Stokes has been capturing candid and insightful post-stage video interviews].
STAGE 6 RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE SIX