KUALA LUMPUR: Two WorldTour teams – the highest division in the International Cycling Union (UCI) Tour – will be action in the Tour of Langkawi from Feb 24-March 4.
There were no WorldTour teams last year, taking the gloss off the Tour. Now with them back in the 10-day Tour, the organisers have promised “to take good care of them”.
The two are Kazakhstan-based team Astana and American team Garmin-Barracuda.
“We will make sure their stay during the Tour will be a memorable one,” said Emir Abdul Jalal, the Tour chief operations officer, after a sponsorship presentation in Bukit Jalil yesterday.
In 2009, the Tour welcomed four teams – Ag2r, Bbox Bouygues Telecom, Garmin-Slipstream and Fuji-Servetto – from the WorldTour (formerly known as ProTour).
A year later, only Footon-Servetto came to Malaysia.
“We will plan some activities and fans of both Astana and Garmin-Barracuda will get a chance to meet the cyclists prior to the start of the Tour,” said Emir.
Alexandre Vinokourov will be leading the Astana team, who will arrive on Feb 19. They will be setting up their training base in Port Dickson. Garmin, however, have yet to confirm their arrival date.
Astana and Garmin will start their season with the Tour Down Under in Australia, which starts on Sunday. Assan Bazayev, Dmitriy Gruzdev and Valentin Iglinskiy will be in Astana’s starting line-up for both the Tour Down Under and Tour of Langkawi.
Yesterday’s sponsorship presentation saw shampoo manufacturer Pearl Ray, health drink maker Orang Kampung Corporation, financial provider Malaysian Building Society Berhad (MBSB) and radio communications distributor NexEdge Technology coming on board.
Emir said: “We have received RM5.8mil in sponsorship so far.”