There is never an easy day in Langkwai at the LIMBC, the closing two stages were considerably shorter in distance than the preceding stages (stage 4: XCO 4.5km course x 5 laps and stage 5: XCC 1.6km course x 8 or 9 laps) and time (XCC 30 minutes to XCO 90 minutes) but the womens field compensated by boosting the intensity. Lea Davison (Specialized Factory Racing) had around a seven minute lead over Maja Wloszczowska (Giant Pro XC Team ) going into stage 4 but the fight for 3rd was imminent with only seconds separating Adelheid Morath (Sabine Spitz Haibike Pro Team) and Eva Lechner (Colnago Sudtirol). Eva Lechner was the hot favourite for the XCO, she is currently ranked world number 1, but with the variable Malaysian conditions anything could and would happen. The morning of stage 4 was very wet and again with the pre dawn lightning, this day it did not clear so quickly but the Masters and Senior Masters Men were first on course.
The course was a punchy 4.5km loop around Oriental Village, Langkawi, with a rugged rocky flat run onto a decisively steep tar climb. The course then flattened briefly and descended before a muddy hike uphill and a treacherous slippery muddy descent, typical to most of the stages in this event. My race was brief with a front tyre puncture in the opening 2km of lap 1 left me running 2km to the tech zone where the lovely tech team helped me change my tube only to be lapped out on the second lap (80% rule). Eva Lechner dominated the course with a convincing win over Maja Wloszczowska and Lea Davison in third. With the ‘80% rule’ in place for these two stages many of the women were pulled off the course before completing the allocated number of laps (myself included) and a time penalty enforced. We were fortunate as the weather cleared after the morning rain but the mens open was scheduled for the afternoon (1500) and not so fortunate. A mini tropical storm blew through on the 4/6 laps adding to the technical difficulty and rate of attrition in the mens race. The French Maxime Marotte and Stephane Tempier first and second in the mens open XCO with Emil Lindgren (SWE) in third.
The final stage was for the spectators, a 1.6km hotdog loop along the foreshore at Pantai Kok, and well attended by many Langkawi locals of all ages. The race was criterium style with each category completing approximately 30 minutes of racing, the number of laps was allocated after completion of the first lap, the time from that lap used to estimate the number of laps to be completed in a 30 minute time period. The course was open, dry and fast for the Masters men and Senior Masters but minutes before the women were to start a mini tropical stome blew through drowning the course with torrential rain and strong gusty winds. The womens race was delayed 30 minutes until the rain subsided and the course inspected. Two of the bridges on the course were under water and despite efforts to ‘pump’ the water back into the sea, the womens course was abbreviated for safety reasons.
The womens race was wet but fast with Maja, Lea and Nathalie driving to disperse the field in the first couple of laps. With a disappointing end to stage 4 I was determined to stay in the race, the course perfect for a 29er and fast but not technical or muddy. I finished 12th only a couple of minutes off the leaders, super stoked not to be lapped out on such a short course. This race again employed the 80% rule and on a shortened course many of the women did not make it to the last lap. In the end a three way sprint saw Maja win, Lea second and Nathalie in third with no change to the overall womens classification.
Six days of very tough racing and Lea Davison (Specialized Factory Racing team) retained the womens leader jersey with a dominant performance and comfortable lead over Maja Wloszczowska (Giant Pro XC Team) in second and Eva Lechner (Colnago Suditrol) in third.
Mens Open: Kohei Yamamoto (Specialized Racing) won over Emil Lidgren (Giant Pro XC Team) and Maxime Marotte (BH Brsuntour KMC) in third
Mens Masters: Marzio Deho (Cicli Olympia) narrowly held off Nicholas Craig (Scott) and Patrick Jansen in third
Mens Senior Masters: Mads Bodker (Davinci Specialized) won over Derek David Milne (Nelson MTB Club) and Jirawat Chulak (Endurance) in third