Belgians bank on Aussies for a better outing


KUALA LUMPUR: Retaining four of their riders from last year's team, Belgium's Flanders-iteamNova.com aim to improve on their position with Australians Allan Iacuone and David McKenzie expected to play leading roles in the Telekom Malaysia Tour of Langkawi (LTdL) cycling championships, which begin on Jan 31. 

The team will be racing as a newly-formed outfit following the merger between Australian team iteamNova.com and Belgium's Flanders. 

IteamNova.com were 11th overall last year and their best finisher was Dominique Perras, who was placed 18th in the individual standings. 

Team official Susan Stewart said that the team would bank on Iacuone's climbing skills to help them improve on their standings. 

The former Australian champion performed consistently last year, claiming second overall in the Herald Sun Tour and sixth in the Australian championships. 

Stewart said that the team had been preparing hard for the Tour because they viewed the event as an important one on the Flanders-iteamNova calendar. 

“Being a team with major Australian influence, it is important for the team to race well in Asia. The LTdL is the biggest Tour outside Europe and is contested strongly by the big teams. Therefore it is a good showcase for our team,” she said. 

Besides Iacuone, the team have two other strong climbers in Trent Wilson and Scott Guyton. The other members of the team are Ronny Assez and Jurgen Landrie. 

“We’re also going for some stage wins, hopefully from McKenzie and Landrie,” said Stewart. 

“We’ll be concentrating on the overall honours. However, with a couple of opportunists in the team, a stage win or two could be on the cards.” 

McKenzie is among the team's top riders, having won a stage in the Giro d'Italia and several top races last year. 

A total of 154 riders from 22 teams will compete in the 10-stage LTdL, which ends on Feb 9. – Bernama 

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