Logic dictates that when WorldTour teams line up against lower-ranked teams, it is expected that they will win.
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7 Apr 2015 - 11:32 PM  UPDATED 13 Apr 2015 - 3:37 PM

The recent UCI 2.HC Tour de Langkawi boasted five WorldTour teams, but it was the continental teams who stole the show. Should we be suspicious of this unexpected outcome?

On Stage 3, after being in the break for the two days previous, Chinese rider Meiyin Wang from the Hengxiang continental team, rode away from his breakaway companions and held off a thundering peloton in a 40km uphill, solo time trial.

He crested Cameron Highlands 2min 27sec ahead of Julian Arredondo (Nippo-De Rosa) who escaped from the peloton on the steep slopes and managed to establish a 50 second margin.

Two days later, Arredondo dominated the punishing 17km Genting Highlands climb, gapping Tour de France stage winner Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEDGE) in the closing kilometres to claim the yellow jersey which he would retain for the remainder of the tour.

Following the exceptional rides of these relatively unknown riders, there were murmurs in the peloton of 'unbelievable' performances.

While these performances would be extraordinary in any race, do we question the legitimacy of these performances purely because they bettered the WorldTour teams?

If there were no teams in the race who were judged to be superior, would we be suspicious of these performances?

WorldTour teams netted half of the Le Tour de Langkawi stage wins (Blanco four, Astana one), but none of the overall classifications. In fact, there were only three WorldTour riders in the final general classification top 10.

It needs to be recognised that this was a minor race for WorldTour teams and they sent squads to match that status. For the smaller teams Langkawi may be the biggest race they compete in all season, so it becomes a key objective .

I questioned Arredondo after the final stage, asking him if he was surprised by his performance considering the competition, or if he expected to do so well.

"I have prepared for this race very well," said Arredondo.

"It doesn't matter if the other riders are from the ProTour or not. I have spent four years in Italy and I'm used to winning important races at international level in Italy. Only last year I raced very little because of the visa problems that I told you about, but I still came second in the Tour of Japan, second in Kumano and fourth in Japan Cup. For me, it really doesn't matter if teams are pro teams or not but what matters in the mentality for winning."

Perhaps it is not the continental riders at all who are the ones who should be under suspicion suggests one Cycling Central reader:
Won't it be funny if in the post LA era the Continental (wild card) teams regularly creamed the pro teams in multi-stage races? It would start one thinking that maybe the pro teams have been racing for the Doper's Cup for years.Are we forever going to be suspicious of unexpected performances or do we need to re-evaluate our expectations?