Shorter Tour but seven stages promise thrills


PETALING JAYA: The 14th edition of the Tour of Langkawi (LTdL) will not be short of excitement even though the championships have been shortened to seven stages for the first time since the inaugural event in 1996 because of financial constraints.

The chief operating officer, Datuk Naim Mohamad, said that the shorter route compared to nine stages last year would not take the competitive edge out of the riders.

The Tour, beginning in Putrajaya on Feb 9 and ending in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 15 with the traditional criterium race at Dataran Merdeka, will feature 20 teams and it will cover a total distance of 1,029.9km.

“The seven-stage format suits all the teams well,” said Naim at a sponsorship-handing over ceremony witnessed by Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob at the Palace of the Golden Horses in Seri Kembangan yesterday.

“We have climbs in almost all the stages this time around. The routes will be even more challenging for the riders.

“There is no doubt about the quality of the races. The LTdL is graded again as a hors class (2.HC) race by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and still maintains its status as one of the most prestigious championships in Asia.”

Naim thanked the various sponsors who came forward to make the event a success but they were still short of about RM14mil needed to stage the Tour.

“We have cut down on many aspects of the costing and we expect to spend at least RM2mil on each stage,” said Naim.

Among the sponsors of the Tour are Genting Bhd, Proton, Telekom Malaysia, Nestle, Le Run and German car manufacturer Volkswagen.

Ismail said that the government had chipped in RM7.5mil and he hoped to see more government-linked companies (GLCs) come forward to support the Tour.

All five continents will be represented in the Tour and nine of the teams are professional outfits.

Four are from the Pro Tour circuit — Garmin-Slipstream of the United States, Ag2r and Bouygues Telecom from France and Fuji-Servetto of Spain.

The five pro continental teams are Diquigiovanni (Venezuela), CSF (Ireland), Vorarlberg-Corratec (Austria), ISD (Italy) and the Swiss-based Cervelo Test Team of Tour de France winner Carlos Sastre.

Oceania and Africa will be represented by the Australian and South African national teams.

THE SEVEN STAGES

Feb 9: Putrajaya-Senawang (135km).

Feb 10: Senawang-Malacca (161.7km).

Feb 11: Malacca-Malaca (186.6km).

Feb 12: Malacca-Bangi (222.2km).

Feb 13: Petaling Jaya-Genting Highlands (95.6km).

Feb 14: Batang Kali-Shah Alam (148.4km).

Feb 15: KL criterium (80.4km).

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