PETALING JAYA: Expect riders from the continental teams to spring surprises in the Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) from Sept 23-30.
While attention might gravitate towards the status of WorldTeam and ProTeam, Asian riders with the continental teams stand a fair chance to shine again as they look to stand tall against the European riders.
Over the course of the past 26 editions, several Asian continental teams have secured various jerseys and classifications, with Hong Kong-born rider Wong Kam Po of Team Telekom All Stars being the first to break the European riders’ dominance by triumphing in the Stage 4 of LTdL 2000.
The Asian teams participating are Malaysian national team, Terengganu Polygon Cycling Team (TSG), 7-Eleven Cliqq-Air 21 of Philippines, Nusantara Cycling Team (Indonesia) and Roojai Online Insurance, KSPO Pro (South Korea), JCL Team Ukyo (Japan), St George Continental Cycling Team (Australia) and three teams from China – Hengxiang Cycling Team, Li Ning Star and Giant Cycling Team.
The organisers are actively searching for another Asian Continental team to finalise the roster of 11 continental teams participating in this year’s event.
Emir Abdul Jalal, the chief operating officer of this year’s LTdL, said the consistent demonstration of maturity by Asian riders in the event serves as an indication of their substantial experience acquired through competing against riders from more formidable European teams.
“Fans may want to see this LTdL filled with big teams from Europe, but we should not set aside the original objective of organising the LTdL itself, which is to give Asian continental riders the opportunity to compete with the world’s best,” said Emir.
“So, we do our best not to marginalise teams from Asia by filling half of the allotted slots with professional teams from the Asian continent.”
Apart from TSG, who are expected to replicate their past achievements of securing the yellow jersey through Artem Ovechkin and achieving four stage victories, the Hengxiang Cycling Team can also be regarded as another accomplished squad in LTdL.
KSPO has also achieved stage victories in previous editions, with Seo Joon-yong winning Stage 5 of LTdL 2015.
“Fans should remember the glimpse of Hengxiang rider Wang Meiyin in LtdL 2013 who won in Cameron Highlands and when he wore the yellow jersey for two days,” said Emir.
“He also won the King of the Mountain jersey and also Asia’s Best Rider in that edition.
“Although Meiyin has since retired and Hengxiang have yet to give us the final list of riders, the team which now consists of two Latvian riders, have their own distinctive reputation.”
Previously, it was announced that seven ProTeam teams will compete this year – Caja Rural Seguros RGA, Equipo Kern Pharma, Euskaltel Euskadi, Green Project-Bardiani CSF Faizane, Team Corratec-Selle Italia (Italy), Human Powered Health (United States) and Tudor Pro Cycling Team (Switzerland).
– The Star