Words: Max Knox | Photos: Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge
International Mountain Bike
The third edition of the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge (LIMBC), Malaysia's biggest mountain bike event, took place from 15-21 October 2012 and attracted some of the world’s best riders, including cross-country marathon (XCM) World No. 5
Simon Gegenheimer and current XCM World No. 1 Steffen Thum (from Germany), five-time Cape Epic winner Karl Platt (from Germany), former European champions Fabian Giger and Florian Vogel (from Switzerland), and our very own Burry Stander and Max Knox. The fully-sanctioned, 2.2 level cross-country stage race around the beautiful Langkawi Island promised to be an interesting and challenging affair, with the terrain and hot, humid conditions set to be major challenges throughout the five stages of the race. This is Max's stage-by-stage account of the race.
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Prologue - 2.4 km
The LIMBC kicked off with the Prologue; an individual time trial of 2.4 km at Eagle Square. The course was long, flat and very muddy, so I tried to ride as conservatively as possible, as it was really easy to crash and hurt yourself in the slippery conditions. Tomorrow the real race starts with a 65 km marathon.
Stage 1 - 65 km marathon, 1,100 m altitude gain
Even though it was hot and humid, and the course slippery and muddy, the start was fast and soon there were splits in the field. After 10 km, I caught up to Todd Wells (Team Specialized) and together we started chasing down the leading four riders, keeping the gap as close as possible. But with 5 km to the finish, Todd's tyre got a puncture, so I carried on and finished the stage in fifth position.
Stage 2 â€“ 45 km, 1,400 m altitude gain
There were two big hills, with lots of portaging. The last hill saw a group of nine riders reach it at the same time, so the pace up was fast. At the top I could see Fabien Giger (Giant) and Karl Platt (Bulls) in front with me, but on the downhill I took a wrong turn between 1-2 km from the finish line and lost my podium position to Emil Lindren (Giant), to finish the stage in fourth position.
Stage 3 - 65 km marathon, 2,500 m altitude gain
It was another beautiful day in the Langkawi jungle. However, unforgiving weather had caused the tracks to become extremely muddy, so the organisers shortened the men's race from the initial 81 km to 65 km, as the original distance was thought to have been too strenuous on the competitors in such conditions. I rode fast track control front and rear 2.0. The course had big climbing and portaging sections, with some short, steep technical descents. Most of the course was in thick jungle bush and single track - specially built for mountain bikers. The Stump Jumper was the perfect setup for the course, as it was light on the climbs and nimble on the downhills. The race started fast, but I kept a steady pace and slowly caught up to the riders who had started out too fast and were now struggling in the heat. I finished the day in fourth position again, and moved closer up the general classification.
Stage 4 - 4.5 km x 6 laps, Olympic distance cross country race
The course was a good mixture of climbing and testing downhills, and the pace was quick from the start. I rode fast track control front and rear 2.0, a good combination for the course. About halfway through the race it started to rain, making the course pretty tricky. On one of the rough downhills I hit a tree, which knocked my bar skew, and from there on it was a major battle to steer straight. I tried to keep the time gap as small as possible, and maintained a good advantage in fifth overall.ď€´
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Stage 5 - 1.6 km x 10 laps, beach course
This was the final day and stage of the LIMBC, and consisted of a 30-minute lap race on the beach. There was a great crowd cheering us on and the organisers did a fantastic job of creating a spectatorfriendly route so that everyone could see the racing. The race was once again fast, with very small time gaps between the top 10. After the halfway mark, I found myself riding with Todd again, and we worked together to finish about 20 seconds behind the winner of the stage. After six gruelling days of racing I was happy to have finished fifth overall. Sometimes in stage racing you need a little luck, and sometimes mistakes made early in the race can add too much extra pressure when trying to make them up.
Fabien Giger, the overall leader from day one of this mountain-bike festival, claimed the top podium position and was more than six minutes ahead of runner-up Hyney (Ceska Sporitelna Specialized) and some 12 minutes away from thirdplaced Karl Platt (Team Bulls). Completing the top 10 overall classification was Emil Lindgren (Rabobank-Giant Offroad Team), Max Knox (Team Specialized), Leisling Mathias and Marx Torsten (Black Tusk Racing by Tomotion), Kark Markt (Feltz-O-Bionic) and Burry Stander and Todd Wells of (Team Specialized). Thanks to everyone who made this such a great race, and for the opportunity of experiencing the beauty and culture of Langkawi. The experience of riding here, with its unique landscape, weather, and climate, will definitely help me in future races. The race organisers are very passionate and enthusiastic about mountain bike racing, and I’m sure this event will continue to grow from strength to strength. There's no doubt that mountain biking is becoming a global sport of choice! •
• The Triple Challenge (Issue 18, p. 78) • Eight weeks to an Epic Race (Issue 9, p. 80)
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DO IT NOW Magazine, Bicycling. The third edition of the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge (LIMBC), Malaysia's biggest mountain...