KUALA LUMPUR: Europcar, formerly known as Bbox Bouygues Telecom, have rejected offers to compete in two international tours to ensure their place in the Tour of Langkawi (LTdL), which will be held from Jan 23-Feb 1.
The team, managed by Jean-Rene Bernaudeau, said they rejected an offer from the organisers of the Tour de France to compete in the Tours of Qatar and Oman because their priority was to come to Malaysia.
The team’s (as BBox) last appearance was in 2009 with a win at the final stage at Dataran Merdeka by Yohann Gene.
With the termination of the sponsorship contract that linked them to the French mobile phone operator, the team were close to folding up but the rental car company came in to their rescue at the last minute last October.
The team competed in the first edition of the LTdL in 1996 under the name of Bonjour.
“We haven’t managed to include the LTdL in our race programmes every year due to different constraints but we believe in fate ... so when we got the opportunity to come back this year, we took it with great pleasure,” Bernaudeau said in a statement here yesterday.
The LTdL will also be the first appearance for Japanese star Yukiya Arashiro under the colours of Europcar.
The rider, from Okinawa, has chosen Thailand as his training ground alongside former team-mate Shinichi Fukushima, who now rides for Terengganu Pro Asia Cycling Team (TCT).
Arashiro will line up with Europcar’s new recruit from Canada, David Veilleux, and his French team-mates – Pierre Rolland, Damien Gaudin, Guillaume Le Floc’h and Perrig Quemeneur.
The 10-stage LTdL will cover a total distance of 1315.4km, starting from Langkawi Island and ending at Dataran Merdeka here. — Bernama