KUALA LUMPUR: Astana Qazaqstan Team (Astana), a World status team, became the first professional team to confirm their participation in the Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) 2023 from Sept 23 to Sept 30.

LTdL in a statement said although the Astana Team did not produce a significant result last season, the team has become a regular face in the LTdL since their first participation in 2012 and regarded as the team to watch in the eight stages during the 27th edition of the race.

“Based on their achievement record, since Alexandr Dyachenko finished fourth overall in the indidividual category in 2012 and together with Andrey Zeits and Valentin Iglinsky helped the team finish second in the overall team event behind Androni Giocatoli-Venezuela.

“Astana’s first stage win was through Italian rider Andrea Guardini in stage seven of the LTdL 2013 from Kuantan to Dungun and Ricardo Minali presented two stage wins in 2018,” according to a LTDL statement.

LTdL added that though Astana has not sent the names of the six riders, the organisers are confident that the team managed by lagendary rider Alexander Vinokourov would field a strong team to challenge for honours in the ProSeries 2 status race.

Meanwhile, LTdL 2023 chief operating officer Emir Abdul Jalal said Astana would always maintain its reputation as a WorldTeam status in any major competition, and LTdL is no exception.

“Teams like Astana will certainly not want to miss the opportunity to accumulate ranking points in the LTdL, especially towards the end of the season.

“Though they (Astana) might not send big names like Mark Cavendish, Simone Velasco or Kazakhstan national champion Alexey Lutsenko, I am sure there will some big names coming here from the team’s list of 30 riders,” he said.

The LTdL 2023 covering a distance of 1,280.3 kilometres (km) is organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports through the National Sports Council (NSC) and the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF).

The race will start in Kerteh, Terengganu on Sept 23, and pass through 11 of the 12 states in the peninsula before ending at the Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC) on Sept 30.

The LTdL 2023 will feature 132 riders from 22 teams (WorldTeam, ProTeam, Continental team status) as well as the National team.

– Bernama/The Sun Daily