ALOR STAR: Some 148 Le Tour de Langkawi participants from 25 professional teams from around the world kick-started their nine-day cycling event in front of Kedah’s key landmarks, the Balai Besar and Masjid Zahir state mosque, on Saturday.
The annual international cycling event, being held for the 13th time, was flagged off by Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid at noon Saturday.
The participants will cycle a total of 1,377.4km from Alor Star and they are expected to arrive at Kuala Lumpur Criterium on the final leg of the tour on Feb 17.
The first stage of the tour covers a total of 182.6km from Alor Star to Kepala Batas, north Seberang Prai via Jitra, Kangar, Air Hitam, Mergong, Sarang Semut, Gurun and Sungai Petani.
The second stage, which starts Sunday, will span 159.7km from Butterworth to Sitiawan in Perak.
The third stage, from Sitiawan to Banting covering 209.4km is scheduled for Feb 11. While stage four, spanning 169km from Port Dickson to Batu Pahat is scheduled for Feb 12.
Subsequent stages will be from Johor Baru to Bandar Penawar (139.9km), Bandar Penawar to Kuala Rompin (182km), Kuala Rompin to Kuantan (127.6km), Temerloh to Bukit Fraser (127km) and then to Kuala Lumpur Criterium (80.4km).
Among the teams participating in the annual event are five Pro Tour teams and 10 teams from Asia, three Pro Tour Teams from France, AG2r La Mondiale, Bouygues Telecom and Credit Agricole.
The Pro-Continental Teams are Karpin Galicia (Spain), CSF Group-Navigare (Ireland), Tinkoff Credit Systems (Italy), Skil Shimano (Netherlands), Skil Shimano (Netherlands), NDC Medical OTC Industria Porte (Switzerland), Team Type 1 (United States), and Serramenti PVC Diquiguivanni-Androni Giocattoli (Venezuela).
The Continental teams are Gerolsteiner –Team ISTA (Germany), Meitan Hompo–GDR (Japan), Seoul Cycling (South Korea), Letua Cycling Team (Malaysia), MNCF Cycling Team (Malaysia), Trek Marco Polo Team (China), Polygon Sweet Nice Team (Indonesia), Giant Asia Racing Team (Taipei), South Australia.com AIS (Australia), Drapac Porche (Australia) and Azad University Cycling Team (Iran).
The event has also attracted national teams from Malaysia, New Zealand, South Africa and Hong Kong.