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GERIK, Malaysia (VN) — Just a little over two weeks after talking with VeloNews about his recent stage win at the Herald Sun Tour earlier this month, American sprinter Travis McCabe out-kicked a group of 50 riders to claim stage 2 at Le Tour de Langkawi in Gerik, Malaysia on Thursday.
McCabe took the win over 2006 Milan-San Remo winner Filippo Pozzato (Wilier-Triestina) and current race leader Ryan Gibbons (Dimension Data).
After the race, McCabe once again spoke with VeloNews, this time to share his thoughts on winning the longest stage (208.1km) of the eight-day UCI Asia Tour road race.
“I’m on cloud nine,” said McCabe. “You can’t ask for anything better when the lead-out works and all goes as plan. It’s perfect.”
The 27-year-old Arizona native was also quick to give credit to new UnitedHealthcare teammate Greg Henderson, who rejoined the American Pro Continental squad after more than a decade away.
“Hendy is the one that you can really attribute all the success to,” said McCabe. “He is really making me look good, the whole team is, but we have Hendy coming in from Lotto and working with André Greipel. He just has so much knowledge and is calling all the shots, putting everything in line and telling us how to sprint and how to approach each mile marker — he is pretty much telling us how to race.”
Henderson returned to UHC after Lotto-Soudal declined to renew his contract following five years with the team. The native New Zealander began his road career at UHC’s original incarnation of Health Net-Maxxis back in 2004 following a world championship and Commonwealth Games gold medal on the track.
“The whole team executed the plan perfectly and pulled off the win so it was a great day on the bike,” Henderson told VeloNews. “We learned from our mistake yesterday and was able to keep Travis calm until the final 150 meters, and he was able to power to the win.
“It was a great day for Travis and the team.”
In less than a month of racing, the addition of the Vuelta a España stage winner has already paid dividends.
“The biggest thing I need to work on is patience, and Hendy has done a great job of keeping me calm,” explained McCabe, who joined UHC in 2017 after a year with the Holowesko-Citadel Racing Team. I’m rooming with Hendy this week and as you can see it’s already paying off.”
The 40-year-old veteran played a critical role in the evolution of Lotto’s sprint train, and McCabe is hoping lightning strikes twice.
“I’m an aggressive rider and I still have some work to do as today I got in a break before the climb and wasted some energy because I was feeling good. But I need to be patient and put trust in my team.
“I came from a team where I didn’t really have a lead-out and was fighting for myself,” he continued. “To come to a team where I have six to eight guys behind me is a game-changer.”