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REMBAU, Malaysia (VN) — American Brad White (UnitedHealthcare) won his first professional race Monday in Malaysia’s Tour de Langkawi. White, as he did in the last two days, escaped. After suffering indoors this winter in Michigan, he embraced the heat, the humidity, and the stage 5 victory in Rembau.
“I’m so happy right now,” White told VeloNews as sweat and water rolled off his face and landed on his white and blue jersey. “I came from Michigan, we have so much snow. I had to ride all my days indoors. At home right now it’s [-4 degrees], it’s very cold so it’s good to be able to pull it off.”
White collected several criterium wins in the U.S. but this was his first UCI-ranked victory. Monday’s stage, which measured 139.3 kilometers from Karak in the country’s west, also marked UnitedHealthcare’s first win of the season.
“This is the first time for me to race in Malaysia. The heat is probably the hardest part here, but luckily, the heat has been OK for me. Normally, I’m terrible in the heat. I come from a winter climate,” White said.
“The only other race I’ve done like this is in the USA, the U.S. Champs in Greenville, South Carolina. It’s very similar to this but in the months of July and August.”
The mercury touched 95 degrees. With the humidity factored in and the heat off the roads, the riders said it felt around 110 degrees.
White, 32, broke away with five others 10km into the escape. His biggest threat was South African champion Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka). They gained up to six minutes and lost half of their companions heading south.
“It was a hard day only because it was my third day in the break in a row,” White said. “The course was fast today. They gave us a gap but a rider [Meintjes] in our group was only three minutes down, so some people sit on and then we went full. The MTN rider was very strong; he rode a lot. He was the one really pushing it.”
Meintjes, in his first season as a pro, placed second in the under-23 worlds last year in Florence. He finished in the same spot today. He worked hard to keep the gap and to move to an eventual 10th in the classification. The peloton increased its effort to pull the gap to 1-15 minutes at the line, where White pounced and took a big win for himself and UnitedHealthcare.