SHAH ALAM – Datuk Naim Mohamad, Chief Operating officer, Le Tour de Langkawi 2008 announces today that A record number of 30 different nationalities will form the field for Le Tour de Langkawi this year. The race will start in Alor Setar, on February 9 and will end up with the traditional criterium at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur on February 17.

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According to the provisional start list of 150 riders, Malaysia will have the highest number of participants with 18, followed closely by Australia with 17, then Japan with 12, Italy with 10, France and Germany with 9 each.  The other nations with cyclists involved are New Zealand, Hong Kong, Korea, Iran, South Africa, Indonesia, Spain, Russia, Colombia, Switzerland, Kazakhstan, China, Mexico, Argentina, Belarus, Venezuela, Taiwan, Ireland, Great-Britain, Moldavia, Netherlands, Estonia, Belgium and the USA. The 25 teams on the start line will be: Crédit Agricole, Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli, South Africa, Giant-Asia, Tinkoff, Skil-Shimano, Bouygues Telecom, Ag2r-La Mondiale, CSF Group-Navigare, Karpin-Galicia, Team Type 1, NGC Medical-OTC Industria Porte, Gerolsteiner-Ista, Southaustralia.com-AIS, Meitan Hompo-GDR, Trek-Marco Polo, Azad University, LeTua, Polygon-Sweet Nice, Seoul Cycling Team, Malaysia Continental, Drapac-Porsche, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Malaysia. A spectacular race with numerous bunch sprints, the Le Tour de Langkawi will feature some of the fastest men in the world of cycling; Italy’s Alberto Loddo, who won five stages last year and now rides for Tinkoff, Danilo Hondo from Germany, who is a new signing for Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli, British veteran Jeremy Hunt, now backed by Crédit Agricole, Aurélien Clerc of Switzerland with Bouygues Telecom, Alexandre Usov from Belarus with Ag2r-La Mondiale, CSF’s Ruben Bongiorno from Argentina, Japan’s Takahashi Miyazawa with Meitan Hompo-GDR, Russia’s Sergey Kudentsov from Trek-Marco Polo, Australian U23 champion Simon Clarke, South Africa’s Nolan Hoffman, Seoul’s Park Sung Baek and Malaysia’s cycling star Anuar Manuar who rides for LeTua Cycling Team. The replacement of the traditional climb up to Genting Highlands by Fraser’s Hill opens the final victory to more contenders than ever. South American climbers remain the main favorites with Colombia’s José Serpa, who has won Genting Highlands twice in two participations her.  The duel is very promising with his compatriot Walter Pedraza, who just switched from Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni to Tinkoff where he’ll pair with Russian up-and-coming all rounder Pavel Brutt who opened the history of his team on the world cycling scene when he won a very difficult stage 9 to Seremban last year.  Simon Gerrans and Nicholas Roche (Crédit Agricole), Ian McLeod and David George (South Africa), Johann Tschopp (Bouygues Telecom), Stijn Vandenbergh (Ag2r), Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio (CSF), Matt Wilson (Team Type 1), Wesley Sulzberger (Southaustralia.com), Yukiya Arashiro (Meitan Hompo-GDR) and Jai Crawford (Trek-Marco Polo) are among the other potential overall winners. Meanwhile, Proton, one of the loyal supporters of the Le Tour de Langkawi, once again pledged their commitment to the event this year. LTdL 2008 COO Datuk Naim Mohamed and Proton Managing Director, YBhg Dato’ Hj Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir, attended today’s official launch. A total of 25 teams will compete in the 13th edition of the prestigious LTdL. With the increased participation and the return of the Pro Tour teams, combined with the support of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, who are the main organizers for the event next year, the LTdL 2008 is set to be the best ever since its inception in 1996.  The Tour is also sanctioned by the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF), the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and the Asian Cycling Confederation. One of the major differences in the Tour is the idea of taking it closer to the people. To achieve this, more events will be organised on the ground which means more carnival-like activities at all start and finish venues. One of the side events to be included will be cycling clinics. One of the priorities for the Tour is to promote cycling at the grass root level. This will be done via the Rukun Tetangga and Kampung Baru programmes. One of the other key messages will be to encourage more Malaysians to take up cycling as a means to a healthier lifestyle. RACE ROUTESTAGE ONE – Alor Star to Kepala Batas (182.6km)STAGE TWO – Butterworth to Sitiawan (159.7km)STAGE THREE – Sitiawan to Banting (209.4km)STAGE FOUR – Port Dickson to Batu Pahat (169km)STAGE FIVE – Johor Bahru to Bandar Penawar (139.9km)STAGE SIX – Bandar Penawar to Kuala Rompin (182.8km)STAGE SEVEN – Kuala Rompin to Kuantan (126.6km)STAGE EIGHT – Temerloh to Fraser’s Hill (127km)STAGE NINE – KL Criterium (80.4km)

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