The 18th edition of Le Tour de Langkawi will feature a very international field, as 30 nations are represented on the provisional start list of 132 riders divided into 22 teams. Hosting nation Malaysia leads the pack with 16 cyclists due to take part, ahead of Japan with 12, Italy with 10, Australia and the Netherlands with 8, USA and Korea with 7.
All five continents will be represented: 12 countries from Europe (Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, France, Slovenia, Germany, Great-Britain, Poland, Belgium, Lithuania, Russia and Denmark), 8 from Asia (Japan, China, Malaysia, Korea, Singapore, Kazakhstan, Indonesia and Iran), 4 from America (Colombia, Argentina, USA and Venezuela) and Africa (South Africa, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Namibia) and 2 from Oceania (Australia and New Zealand).
“We’re delighted to provide the Malaysian public with such a diverse international bunch of cyclists”, said the chief operating officer of Le Tour de Langkawi Emir Abdul Jalal. “It also means that a lot of people from different countries will be able to locate Malaysia on the map of the world thanks to cycling because of our extensive media coverage outside the country.”
The biggest name among these 132 riders is probably the one of Pierre Rolland. The Frenchman has won a mountain stage of the Tour de France in the past two years. LTdL is his first goal this year after warming up at the Tropicale Amissa-Bongo in Gabon and the Etoile de Bessèges in France.
GC contenders are to be identified among climbers like Lachlan Morton and Peter Stetina (Garmin-Sharp), Alexandr Dyachenko and Andrey Kashechkin (Astana), Jonathan Monsalve (Vini Fantini), Gianluca Brambilla and Serge Pauwels (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Cameron Meyer and Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge), Jackson Rodriguez and Carlos Ochoa (Androni Venezuela), Dennis van Niekerk and Jacques Janse van Rensburg (MTN), Victor Nino and Oscar Pujol (RTS), Fortunato Baliani (Nippo) and John Ebsen (Synergy Baku Cycling Project).
Once again, Le Tour de Langkawi should be spectacular because of the bunch sprints. A winner of eleven stages in the past two editions, Andrea Guardini, now with Astana, will be the man to watch, but he’ll face a fierce competition led by the Blanco team around Theo Bos and his train formed of Graeme Brown, Tom Leezer and Jetse Bol. Other top sprinters are Francesco Chicchi (Vini Fantini), Koldo Fernandez and Steele Van Hoff (Garmin-Sharp), Bryan Coquard (Europcar), Jake Keough and Robert Förster (Unitedhealthcare), Andrew Fenn (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Aidis Kruopis (Orica-GreenEdge) as well as local heroes Harrif Salleh (Terengganu) and Anuar Manan (Synergy Baku Cycling Project).
The participation of the Australian superstar in the making and double national champion (road and time trial) Luke Durbridge of Orica-GreenEdge will be another great attraction
while the improvements of Asian cycling could be seen through the emergence of the most promising Chinese rider Wang Meiyin from Hengxiang.
The LTdL 2013, which carries the slogan “The Heat is On”, will officially begin in Kangar on February 21 and the race comprises 10 stages, covering 1469.7 kilometres.
The race is sanctioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI) as a 2.HC (hors category) race on the UCI Asia Tour calendar, organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, via
the National Sports Council (NSC) in association with the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF).