KUALA LUMPUR – A team with strong Russian flavour, registered in Italy and sponsored by a cycling-mad Russian millionaire, Tinkoff Credit Systems will make their return to the 13th edition of Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) from February 9 to 17, this time looking to be among the frontrunners for the overall crown.

Having finished an impressive seventh overall last year, young Russian climber Pavel Brutt returns with a squad that looks likely to be tucked firmly in battle in every stage of this year’s Tour, with Tinkoff lining up six men that can easily cause the biggest sensations in this year’s race.

Pavel Brutt

Many will remember that it was Brutt who delivered Tinkoff Credit Systems’ historic first win in Stage Nine of the LTdL from Putrajaya to Seremban on February 10 last year.

“It was a dream start of the year. The victory, my first one for the new team and actually the very first one of the team on the whole, was naturally a great inspiration. The race gave a good basis to dwell on, and had a very positive effect on the first half of the season, including the Giro,” said Brutt.

“All in all, it goes well with my physique to start racing early on, in exotic locations on top of that. In my junior years I regularly raced in winter somewhere as far as Latin America.”

The team returns to LTdL with an even bigger appetite – their line-up featuring LTdL’s record five stage winner Alberto Loddo, who was signed from the Serramenti Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli team in the off-season.

Joining Loddo in the double swoop by Tinkoff is Colombian climber Walter Pedraza, who will likely be among the top contenders for the overall title in this year’s edition.

The pint-sized Pedraza finished third overall in LTdL last year, behind overall winner Anthony Charteau of Credit Agricole and the then team mate Jose Serpa of the Diquigiovanni team.

Italian sprinter Loddo will be backed this time around by a promising 22-year old Russian sprinter Nikolai Trusov, who also rode last year’s edition of LTdL.

In fact four of the Tinkof Credit Systems’ six riders this time have competed in LTdL at some stage.

The newcomers to LTdL in Tinkoff’s line-up will be Belarussian Yauhen Sobal and Russian climber Sergey Klimov, both 27-years old.

And Tinkoff’s trail of early season surprises, capped by an explosive showing in their Giro d’Italia debut last year began in LTdL, so the team are hoping their efforts in Asia’s biggest race will trigger the same if not better this season.

“The race was excellently organised and it was top level in every respect. Not a single detail got overlooked. Suffice to say, we were given a week to get adapted to heat and a new time zone. The Tour de Langkawi left the sensation of great discovery, fantastic days spent in a country so different from all I had visited before,” said the 25-year old Brutt.

Having made their maiden appearance in the Giro d’Italia thanks to their impressive showing in LTdL last year, Tinkoff will be fired up again this year, as they chase an entry into the world’s biggest race – the Tour de France, which is their next target.

“Tour de France is a dream of a lifetime for our team boss Oleg Tinkov, the dream shared by all the riders and staff members. But at the same time it’s a strategic goal which takes a serious foundation to base on. At the moment we are in the process of building this foundation,” said Brutt.

TINKOFF’S PROVISIONAL LINE UP FOR LTDL: Pavel Brutt, Sergey Klimov, Nikolai Trusov (Russia), Yauhen Sobal (Belarus), Walter Pedraza (Colombian), Alberto Loddo (Italy).

Team Manager : Claudio Erminio Cozzi

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