KUALA LUMPUR: The silver jubilee of the Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) was launched with much pomp and grandeur as the country’s premier cycling race heads towards another great journey into the new decade.
After 24 years, the Petronas LTdL marked a new milestone with the 25th anniversary celebration at the Petronas Twin Towers yesterday.
Prime Minister and race founder Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who conceived the initial idea of having just “a small round island cycle race” to boost tourism in Langkawi in 1996, was there to officiate the event.
What was supposed to be a modest international stage race in 1996 has turned into an iconic Tour recognised as Asia’s biggest cycle race.
With the Tokyo Olympic Games looming, LTdL 2020 is expected to draw significant attention from World Tour and Pro Continental outfits around the world as well as riders from national teams.
Under UCI’s new race structure, only 30 Hors Classe or Class 1 races around the world are selected to be in the UCI ProSeries, just a notch below the World Tour Series (comprising three Grand Tours - Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta Espana - UCI Classics Series and other UCI World Tour races).
The eight-stage Jubilee edition challenge is scheduled from Feb 7-14 covering a total distance of 1095.7km across nine states which include Sarawak, Terengganu, Pahang, Federal Territories (Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur), Selangor, Perak, Penang and Kedah.
Two additional races – the Criterium International in Kota Kinabalu (Feb 6) and the Malaysian Classics in Langkawi (Feb 15) – will also be staged.
Both events will serve to provide pre and post-event excitement and added value to spectators, fans, the sports fraternities and the sponsors.
In Dr Mahathir’s speech, he praised the growth of LTdL, stressing that it has surpassed all his expectations, from being a small round island race to a world-class event envied by many.
“Not only are Malaysia and Langkawi now among the world’s holiday destinations thanks to the expansion of the Tour, other districts in Malaysia have benefited too, ” said Dr Mahathir.
“LTdL’s return to Sabah and Sarawak will definitely add to the sense of adventure offered throughout the race.”
He commended race organisers, Human Voyage, who initiated the two additional races to further popularise cycling in the country with both adopting the one-day race concept which is hugely popular in Europe.
In thanking the sponsors and corporate entities involved, Dr Mahathir paid tribute to title sponsors Petronas as the prime movers of the competition.
“For the first time ever, we saw the iconic Petronas Twin Towers as the background for the grand depart of LTdL 2019.
“Thank you to all sponsors for your generosity, we hope the same cooperation will be extended to LTdL in the future, ” said Dr Mahathir.
In conjunction with the race’s 25th anniversary, various sporting and social activities have been planned.
Given its new ProSeries status, LTDL 2020 looks set to attract top tier teams from around the world.
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