For years since its inception back in 1996 Le Tour de Langkawi has been a big draw for cyclists the world over. The roll call of winners’ emhasises this with the inaugural winner from Australia and last year a Frenchman was victorious. Alan Charteau led from the front after day three and epitomised the true qualities of a great bike rider.

LTdL 2007 Genting stg 8 Race winner Charteau in yellow, Stage winner Jose SERPA
LTdL 2007 Genting stg 8 Race winner Charteau in yellow, Stage winner Jose SERPA
Picture by John Pierce

His team Credit Agricole were also superb and were ever present at his side throughout the event. Admittedly most commentatators including myself felt that the counter attacks throughout the stages leading to Genting would drain him of energy. But, when it counted most the Frenchman served up the cousine that any chef in a Michelin Restaurant would be proud of! The rest was history as he survived the onslaught on Genting back last February to write himself into Malaysian folklore by becoming the first Frenchman to claim outright victory.

Also, it has be said that Team Giant Asia created their own piece of history! And an Irishman from Tralee Co. Kerry, Paul Griffin was on board to rattle the cages of the ProTour Teams in the event by winning the overall team prize. Not! I may add as the top Asian team but the overall team prize. To this day when Paul is interviewed he always remarks the feat the team rose to that occasion and dare I say without fear of contradiction, Paul played a pivotal role over those 10 days of racing.

Shinishi Fukashima 2007
Shinishi Fukashima won LTdL 2007 Stage 7 Karak
Picture by John Pierce

Now in its 13th year and if you are superstitious of the number 13! Is it going to be lucky for some and for others? Will they want to forget it? But, at least the daunting climb on the last day up to Genting which is high up in the clouds has been parked on this occasion because of the Chinese New Year which will bring droves of people to this unique place of entertainment.

Therefore Genting was the joker in the pack as far as the climbers were concerned, not anymore and this opens up the deck of cards as far as potential winners are concerned.

Of course Fraser’s Hill will come into its own and the climb up to the summit may cause problems, but the time gaps will be significantly reduced in relation to the ascent of Genting.

Still, ‘Fraser’ should put a dent in the proceedings, but as far as the big picture is concerned it will not cause a rumble in the jungle as far as the overall is concerned.

And, this where the likes of David George (South Africa), Pavel Brutt (Russia), Simon Gerrans (Australia), Sebastien Hinault (France), Daniel Hondo (Germany) and Ruslan Ivanov (Moldovia) who will all be in the shakeup come Sunday week in downtown Kuala Lumpur.

Nicholas Roche and Paul Griffin will surely keep Irish interest alive for the duration of the the 9-day event in beautiful Malaysia.

Alberto Loddo - LTdL 2007 Kota Terrenganu Stage 5 Winner
Alberto Loddo – LTdL 2007 Kota Terrenganu Stage 5 Winner
Pictue by John Pierce

You can be sure that because of the nature of the course the big hitters in the sprints will be very much to the fore and they will keep the spectators on the edge of their seats at the intervening sprints and at the stage finishes.
The likes of Alberto Loddo (Italy) and Ruben Biongiorno (Argentina) are sure to dominate the sprints courtesy of their lead out men.

As regards an overall winner, I would pin my hopes on Pavel Brutt to deliver the goods and a worthwhile performance from Paul and Nicholas should keep Ireland’s interest very much to the fore. But alas,for Paul and his team Giant Asia they will be pushed to the string of their collar to retain the trophy they deservedly won against the cream of the crop last year.

Racing gets under way from Alor Setar tomorrow home of the former Prime Minister who was the guiding light behind the event.

His legacy is that it brought Malaysia to the forefront as an ideal location for both business and more importantly as a holiday destination.

A saying as gaeilge would be appropriate as the 13th edition gets ready to roll off the starting ramp ‘Go neiri on bothar libh.’

Stage 1
February 9
Alor Setar – Kepala Batas
182.6 km

Stage 2
February 10
Butterworth – Sitiawan
159.7 km

Stage 3
February 11
Sitiawan – Banting
209.4 km

Stage 4
February 12
Port Dickson – Batu Pahat
169.0 km

Stage 5
February 13
Johor Bahru – Bandar Penawar
139.9 km

Stage 6
February 14
Bandar Penawar – Kuala Rompin
182.8 km

Stage 7
February 15
Kuala Rompin – Kuantan
126.6 km

Stage 8
February 16
Temerloh – Bukit Fraser
127.0 km

Stage 9
February 17
Kuala Lumpur Criterium
80.4 km


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