KUALA LUMPUR – Astana Qazaqstan Team is the first outfit from the WorldTeam to confirm its appearance in the 27th edition of Le Tour de Langkawi 2023 slated for 23-30 September 2023.

Despite not appearing in major international races throughout the 2023 season so far, the team which has been a regular to LTdL since its debut in 2012, is still considered as one of the great contenders in the eight-stage race this year.

And their track record says it all with Alexandr Dyachenko finishing fourth in the General Classification (GC) in 2012 and together with Andrey Zeits and Valentin Iglinsky propelled the team to finish as the second best team, behind Androni Giocatoli-Venezuela that year.

Astana’s first stage victory was achieved through Italian rider Andrea Guardini on Stage 7 of the 2013 edition from Kuantan to Dungun and Ricardo Minali picked up two stages in 2018.

Of the three names from that early era, Zeits who is now 36-years-old, is still a member of the Astana team to this day, and where he even appeared last year to finish 10th in the GC while sprint specialist, Gleb Syritsa stormed to a Stage 1 win for Astana to finish seventh overall.

Although Astana has yet to send its list of six riders, the organizers of LTdL 2023 are confident that the team managed by the legendary Alexander Vinokourov will still put up a formidable line-up to tackle the challenge of the Category 2 ProSeries status race.

LTdL2023 Chief Operating Officer Emir Abdul Jalal said, Astana always wants to live up to its reputation as a team with WorldTeam status in any race and LTdL is no exception.

In fact, the team’s latest ranking which is 20th overall among the professional teams in UCI (International Cycling Union) with 4557.4 points (as of August 8), reinforces the notion that Astana will be a force to be reckoned with.

“The opportunity to pick up further ranking points from the LTdL 2023 will definitely not be missed by Astana, especially when it is now towards the end of the racing season.

“Although they may not send the likes of Mark Cavendish, Simone Velasco or Kazakhstan’s national champion Alexey Lutsenko here, I am sure they will pick the best possible line-up from the team’s list of 30 riders,” said Emir in a media statement, today.

According to Emir, Astana is now in a precarious situation where they need to collect enough points toward their UCI ranking so as to prevent the team with a great reputation from being relegated to the lower division.

For the record, Velasco won Stage 3 of this year’s Vuelta a la Communitat Valenciana while Cavendish, who was hoping to add to his collection of Grand Tour victories broke his collar bone in a crash at the Tour de France this year and only recorded one victory on Stage 21 of the Giro d’Italia.

The outstanding rider in the turquoise of Astana at the moment is Lutsenko, who won the yellow jersey at the Giro di Sicilia and also won two stages in the Circuito de Getxo-Memorial Hermanos Otxoa, in addition to winning the road event and the national individual time trial of Kazakhstan this year.

Other than Zeits and Syritsa, Yevgeniy Fedorov who won Stage 1 in Kuching in LTdL 2020, Vadim Pronskiy who finished third overall in LTdL 2019 and 2022 national champion Yevgeniy Gidich (sixth overall LTdL 2018) are among the names that may give Astana the boost this year.

“These names have enraptured the fans in several editions of LTdL and they are well aware of the challenges of the hot and rainy weather. Their experience may be used as the benchmark by the Astana team in choosing the names of the six riders to compete later,” added Emir.

The 27th edition of LTdL 2023 will see a total distance of 1,280.3km and is organized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports through the National Sports Council (MSN) in collaboration with the National Cycling Federation of Malaysia (PKBM) and will start in Kerteh, Terengganu on September 23, through 11 of the 12 states in the Peninsula and ends in Kuala Lumpur City Center (KLCC) on September 30.

A total of 132 riders from 22 teams with WorldTeam, ProTeam, Continental status and the Malaysian national team will participate.