Walker: Malaysians deserve European contracts
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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Walker: Malaysians deserve European contracts

by Conal Andrews at 8:33 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling

Former Australian professional Will Walker is acting as directeur sportif and coach to some of Malaysia’s up and coming riders this year, and believes that some of the current crop deserve places on European teams.

“I think [Anuar] Manan has got a lot of potential,” he said, speaking about the 23 year old Malay who won a stage plus the points classification in the race. He is yet to work with him, but is looking forward to doing so. He feels he could have a successful career.

“There are a lot of sprinters in the peloton, but they all win races. Being a [good] sprinter brings a lot of potential as there are so many bunch sprints.

“I believe that Manan is good enough to be picked up by a top European team. He has already won a stage in Langkawi and I am sure with a better train [leadout] and more training, he could win many stages [in races]. He has got the potential to race like a McEwen. He just needs the right training and the right team. It’d be a smart European team which would pick him up.”

Walker, who finished second in the under 23 world road race championship in 2005 and won the Australian championships, had to stop his pro career due to heart rhythm irregularities. He’s been drafted in to oversee the Malaysian riders and to help them progress in the sport, something which keeps him involved with races and allows him to share his enthusiasm.

“I am doing all the races with them this year as a directeur,” he explained. “I have got to try to train them to improve, to work on changing how they view cycling. It is a pretty hard sport, so I have got to give them a bit of a European mentality.

“We already did a one-month training camp and already the guys are ten times better. The difference is amazing. I think it is down to training badly before, and having had the wrong mentality. This week, we have been in more breakaways than nearly every other team. Sometimes we would be the only team with two guys in the breakaway, so we have been doing really well. We are not quite as good as climbing yet, but that’s because they used to have training camps at the top of Genting, yet they never rode up the climb once! Go figure…

“Now we have actually started doing climbs in training, so next year we will have hopefully one guy in the top 25.”

This year’s Malaysian tour saw a notable jump in the performances of the Asian riders. The level of international teams wasn’t at its usual standard, but the Europeans who were there were far more closely challenged than before. Attitudes had also changed and the Asian riders were much more aggressive than in the past.

Walker said that he would not be limited to working with those on the national team. “I will probably oversee the top ten Malaysian guys, including some of the guys from whatever teams they are currently on. I think they are going to be based in Australia, doing some events there and then also racing some of the Asian events.”

Apart from Manan, he is also very impressed with the potential of the 18 year old Adiq Othman, who is currently on the Drapac Porsche team. “We had a training camp with him recently and I think there is some pretty good potential there. He is really good – he is young, but he rides really well. He goes in breaks, he wins KOM points – he definitely has the potential. He can be a good pro in Europe, I am sure of that.”


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