Locals to run the Tour

KOTA BARU: The 2010 Tour of Langkawi (LTdL), the 15th edition of the Tour, will be a showcase of local expertise since the organising of the race will be handled by a complete set of locals.

With the exception of the photo-finish which will be handled by foreign experts, the most prestigious race in Asia, a Hors status cycling Tour that started in 1996, will be managed by locals, thus underlining the ability by locals to manage major events compared with total dependence on foreign expertise in the past.

“Only the photo finish is not handled by locals as we do not have an expert in the technical field yet,” said LTdL chief executive officer Mohamed Salleh yesterday.

“The transformation of technology from foreign experts to locals which started since 1996 has almost been completed. In the past we had to rely on foreign experts to stage the 2.0 Hors status race which is ranked highly by the International Cycling Union (UCI),” he said.

Though organised for the first time by the Youth and Sports Ministry with assistance from the Malaysian Na­­­­tional Cycling Federation and with a limited budget of RM7.5mil, Mohamed said the race would not lose its allure.

Mohamad said the Tour, held from March 1-7, would also generate revenue and income for various sectors.

“There will be numerous activities throughout the Tour, both big and small and that will open new opportunities to the locals, including job opportunities,” he said.

“We have also not diverted from the original objective of organising such a Tour, that of unearthing new talents and exposing them to a high level competition.”

This year’s LTdL will feature 20 teams. Seven stages, covering a distance of 1013.9km, will be held throughout the country. It offers RM710,650 in total prize money, an increase of RM190,000 compared with last year.

The first stage will kick off in Kota Baru, Kelantan, today before moving on to Terengganu, Pahang, Johor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Putrajaya, Selangor, and finally end at the Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur.

This year the Tour will offer a totally new challenge as apart from the current hot season which sees temperatures soaring to an average of 30°C, the race will converge on a route that comprises mostly coastal roads along the South China Sea.

There is also a slight change to the final stage as opposed to the normal criterium race within the city of Kuala Lumpur.

This time the final stage will begin in Kuala Kubu Baru, Selangor, and end in Kuala Lumpur.

The final stage will have all the elements of a grand finale as the individual, king of the mountain, sprint king, best Asian team and best overall team winners are expected to be decided only after the final stage.

Meanwhile, the local challenge will be shouldered by the national team, who have targeted a top-12 place, and Le Tua, who have high hopes of defending the best Asian team title and winning the overall individual classification.

Le Tua have three Spanish riders, an Australian plus two local riders, Ng Yong Li and Mohd Hafiz Rozli.

Four local riders — Anuar Manan (Geum­san Ginseng Asia, South Korea), Adiq Husainie Othman (Drapac Porsche, Australia), Loh Sea Keong, Ahmad Hai­dar Anuawar (Marco Polo, China) — will be racing for foreign teams.

From the 20 teams competing, only one is a Pro Tour status outfit – Footon-Sevetto of Spain while the two professional continental teams are ISD-Neri (Italy) and Vorarlberg-Corratec (Austria).

The others competing teams are Drapac Porsche (Australia), Tab­­riz Petrochemical (Iran), Seoul Cycling Team (South Korea), Marco Polo Cycling Team (China), Aisan Racing Team (Japan), Max Success Sport (China), Le Tua Cycling Team (Malaysia), Team Geumsan Ginseng Asia (South Korea), Team Jayco-Skins (Australia), Azad University (Iran), Giant Asia Racing Team (Taiwan), Polygon Sweet Nice (Indonesia) and Kelly Benefit Strategies (the United States).

The four national teams competing are Malaysia, South Africa, Kazakhstan and Thailand. — Bernama

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