Davids, who rode for the Australian-based Bennelong Swiss-Wellness Cycling Team after having signed with them in November, described the race as “chaotic” from the first stage.
“It was quite an eye-opener,” Davids told In the Bunch today. “There was a big scramble for teams to set up their sprinters at the end [of the first stage].
“Being in the mix among the lead-out trains towards the end of the stage was chaotic. It felt like I was thrown a bit into the deep end.
“On a positive note, I felt like I was able to stand my own ground. I was looking to get on the podium but it was my first professional race and I have never done a tour of this magnitude.
“So getting a top-10 position was pretty good for myself and my mind space ahead of the Commonwealth Games [where he will be representing South Africa].”
He added that during the succeeding stages the tour became “aggressive”, particularly on the general classification days.
“We [Bennelong Swiss-Wellness] were forced to really take the bull by the horns and take it to the teams who were there for the sprints.
“The early stages lent themselves to the sprinters with time bonuses up for grabs. The teams who went there with GC ambitions had to make the most of them and take the racing on.”
Stage seven in particular was “arguably the hardest day I have had on a bike”, Davids said.
“Everyone was so on it and gunning it for the entire stage in an attempt to get the advantage [ahead of the final stage]. It was definitely an eye-opener.
“The racing was really close and tight this year.”
Davids said his team had to bounce back after their lead sprinter Scott Sunderland crashed out of the race in stage three.
“In the following sprint stages we had to set up our back-up sprinter Anthony Giacoppo, but it was a little difficult. We just felt under-manpowered.
“Two of our riders also battled with the heat and there were a lot of dropouts after stage two. The temperature rose to about 40 degrees with 98 per cent humidity.
“Anthony was able to serve the wheels of the other lead-outs quite well, and we managed to overcome some of the mental challenges after we found out Scott was okay [after his crash].”
Since joining Bennelong four months ago, Davids had only played a supportive role for his teammate Chris Harper for a GC result at the New Zealand Cycle Classic in January.
Heading into the Malaysian race, Bennelong had “placed their pennies on three GC riders”, Davids included, he said.
“I ended up making the split on stage seven, the longest stage with seven or eight categorised climbs. Management, myself and Sam [Crome], who also made the split, decided that I would drive the breakaway on the mountains.
“I drove it hard, while also on bottle duty for Sam so that he would preserve as much energy as possible for the final stage. Eventually Astana Pro pulled us back and about 60 riders were together with about 25km left.
“With 20km left I launched an attack and managed to make another split, but I was the only Bennelong rider. I did not even have any GC thoughts at that time.
“The attacks from behind were slowing down and with about two kilometres to go we had created about a minute-and-a-half gap from the chasers.
“I had little left [in the tank] for the final sprint. After driving the move the whole day I was absolutely spent. However, I managed to come seventh. That is when I jumped up on the GC standings.
“I was only three or four seconds off of the podium heading into the final day. It was an exciting moment and I think all in all management and the team were happy with the outcome, despite Sam dropping a few places.
Bennelong’s Crome finished in 13th overall, with Terengganu Cycling Team’s Artem Ovechkin (Russia) having won the tour when it finished on Sunday.