Record Number of 35 Nations Participating in Le Tour de Langkawi 2009
Kuala Lumpur – Malaysia will once again top the field of Le Tour de Langkawi with 15 local riders taking part in the race on the start line at Putrajaya, the home of the Malaysian government, on February 9. But the event appears more international than ever despite the reduction of the number of participating teams from 25 in 2008 to 20 this year. One year ago, it was already a record number of 30 nations lined up but the provisional start list for the 14th edition of the race boasts an exceptional number of riders hailing from 35 different countries and five continents to compete on Malaysian soil.
“Our team invitation committee has looked closely at all the applications we received for making our colourful event the most international possible”, said the chief operating officer Datuk Naim Mohamad. “We are very pleased to welcome cyclists from all over the world. It shows that our sport becomes more and more worldwide thanks to the efforts of the UCI (Union Cycliste Internationale). Malaysia definitely wants to play its part in the globalization of cycling.”
Le Tour de Langkawi is organised by the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) with the support of the Malaysian government. Local hopes are high for a stage win by top sprinter Anuar Manan who finished 2nd in stage 3 under the colours of LeTua last year. He has now joined the national team with his favourite lead out man Anuwar Haidar.
Besides Malaysia, Italy will feature a contingent of 11 riders, followed by Australia (9), France (8), South Africa, Kazakhstan, Iran, China and Korea (6), Spain, Switzerland and Japan (5), Ukraine (3), USA, Germany, Austria, Venezuela, Tunisia, Algeria and Indonesia (2), Belgium, New-Zealand, Canada, The Netherlands, Slovenia, Poland, Ireland, Sweden, Great-Britain, Moldova, Colombia, Argentina, Mongolia, Syria and Qatar (1).
The 20 participating teams will be defending champions Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni (from Venezuela), Bbox-Bouygues Telecom and Ag2r (both from France), American giants Garmin-Slipstream (from the USA), Fuji-Servetto (from Spain), Cervélo Test Team (based in Switzerland), CSF-Navigare (registered in Ireland), ISD (from Italy and the Ukraine), Vorarlberg-Corratec (from Austria), EQA-Meitan-Hompo (from Japan), Seoul Cycling (from Korea), Doha Team (from Qatar), LeTua and MNCF (from Malaysia), as well as the national teams of Malaysia, Australia, South Africa, Iran, Kazakhstan and China. The youngest rider in the race will be Vadim Izotov, 19, from Kazakhstan, and the oldest Shinichi Fukushima, 37, from EQA-Meitan-Hompo.
With the return of Genting Highlands on the map of LTdL, the climbers will be again the contenders for the overall win. Already a double stage winner at the City of Entertainment (in 2006 and 2007), Colombia’s José Serpa (Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni) will be the man to watch alongside Tour de France Spanish stars Juan José Cobo (Fuji-Servetto), José Angel Gomez Marchante (Cervélo Test Team), Swiss light man Johann Tschopp (Bbox-Bouygues Telecom), Australia’s Jai Crawford and South African top prospect Jacques Janse van Rensburg.
The 2009 Le Tour de Langkawi will feature seven challenging stages with finishes in Senawang, Melaka, Bangi, Genting Highlands and Shah Alam prior to the spectacular ending in the nation’s capital Kuala Lumpur with the traditional criterium on February 15.
The Tour is organized by the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) with the support of the Malaysian Government via the Ministry of Youth and Sports and sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and Asian Cycling Confederation (ACC).