KUALA LUMPUR – The orange train which is now known as CSF Group-Navigare from the previous Ceramica-Panaria are expected to dominate Le Tour de Langkawi 2008 following the inclusion of two of its top riders.

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As usual, the presence of the team led by the effervescent Roberto Reberveri have always had a positive impact on the annual cycling race series be it in the sprint or in the climb.

And this time round, it will be no different following the inclusion of sprint specialist Ruben Guillermo Bongiorno from Argentina as well as nippy climber Julio Alberto Perez from Mexico in the chase for the overall yellow jersey.

True to his pedigree, Bongiorno had previously taken five stages in Le Tour de Langkawi including back-to-back wins of the traditional Kuala Lumpur Criterium in 2003 and 2004.

Perez, who did more than make an impression at the Giro de Italia last year with his vertical prowess to push his Ceramica squad into the fifth best team in the Great Tours, was a previous winner of the Hors-level climb of Genting Highlands in Le Tour de Langkawi 2000.

Four new faces from CSF will give further colour to the 13th edition of Le Tour de Langkawi from Feb 9-17, 2008 and they include Mauro Abel Richeze, the younger brother to sprint king Maximiliano Richeze as well as Matteo Priamo, Filippo Savini and Francesco Tomei.

Navigare is a traditional team of Le Tour de Langkawi having first come to these shores back in 1998 when the team was then known as Scrigno-Gaerne.

And over the years, they have changed their name several times due to the change in sponsorships from Scrigno to Navigare-Gaerne, Ceramiche Panaria-Margres, Ceramica-Fiordo and Ceramica-Panaria.

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But the one consistent factor is that this Italian outfit had always put up their best for the Malaysian populace and had never failed to make an impression.

The extraordinary winning displays from the likes of Allesandro Pettachi, Luca Cei and Dario Pieri in the early years of Le Tour de Langkawi continued in much the same vein in the later editions through Enrico Degano, Nathan O’Neill, Graeme Brown, Brett Lancaster, Bongiorno and last year in Richeze.

In all, the team led by the Reverberi family have won a total of 31 stage wins in the 13 year history of Le Tour de Langkawi.

Mario Casaldi, the Media Officer for Navigare said that in spite of the several milestones set by the team thus far, they are still hunger for more victories and will be banking on Bongiorno and Richeze for the sprint while Perez is expected to shine in the climb.

“For Le Tour de Langkawi 2008, we will want to put up an improved performance even though we will be in Malaysia with four riders who have never been there before”, said Casaldi.

Bongiorno and Richeze are currently in the Tour de San Luis in Argentina and have been in good form in the bunch sprints. And if Perez can work hard to be in his best possible shape at this time of the year, then there should be no reason why he cannot win the overall title.

But we have to give due respect to the other riders who will be there like Jose Serpa (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli) and Simon Gerrans (Credit Agricole). We are not familiar with the route up Fraser’s Hill but with the cancellation of the Genting Highlands stage, it will make the other riders more relaxed and that can make the chase for the overall title more open.

CSF GROUP-NAVIGARE

Ruben Guillermo Bongiorno (Arg), Matteo Priamo (Ita), Julio Alberto Pérez Cuapio (Mex), Mauro Abel Richeze (Arg), Filippo Savini (Ita), Francesco Tomei (Ita).

MANAGER: Roberto Reverberi

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