REGULAR contender Green Project-Bardiani CSF-Faizane are expected to mount a strong challenge as they seek another good outing in this year’s Le Tour de Langkawi.
Based on their current results and past reputation in the country’s premier cycle race, Bardiani will be eyeing on stage wins in the eight-stage Tour, which starts on 23 September.
Bardiani, are among seven reputable UCI ProTeams which have confirmed their berth in the Tour.
The team, no stranger to racing in Malaysia, is now 23rd in the world’s point rankings (as of 11th July) apart from being part of the peloton in this year’s Giro d’Italia.
LTdL 2023 Chief Operating Officer Emir Abdul Jalal confirmed that the six remaining ProTeams listed on the race roster are made up of three Spanish teams which will be making their debut in the race.
Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, Equipo Kern Pharma and Euskaltel-Euskadi will fly in for the first time while Human Powered Health from the United States, Team Corratec-Selle Italia (Italy) and Swiss-based Tudor Pro Cycling Team are banking on some notable riders to create impact in the race.
According to Emir, the inclusion of the seven UCI ProTeams would certainly inject more excitement and competitiveness, based on their current standings as they set themselves to battle against the three WorldTeam outfits, which will be named soon.
“Despite their ProTeam status, Bardiani are regarded highly among in the Tour. The team is currently 23rd in the world ranking with 2292.8 points and was also in this year’s Giro d’Italia as a wild card entry.
Bardiani riders are among the active riders and can often be seen involved in breakaways,” said Emir.
Formally established in 1982, Bardiani first tasted action in LTdL in the 1998 edition as Scrigno-Gaerne, and in 2005, shot to fame under Ceramica Panaria-Navigare after clinching seven out of the 10 stages, with five coming from Australian Graeme Brown and another two from Guilermo Bongiorno.
The team, under the helm of Roberto Reverberi, however, have yet to register any victories since their last stage win by Andrea Guardini in 2018.
Minnesota-based Human Powered Health, are also making a comeback in the Tour following their past appearance as Kelly Benefits, United Health Care and Rally Cycling. The team last won through Adam Vos who took Stage 3 in 2018 while Travis McCabe won two stages in 2017.
“Watch out for another Grand Tour team, Team Corratec-Selle Italia who are making their debut here. Based on their current standings and performance, expect them to shine following their strong showing in the Tour of Qinghai Lake that ended on the weekend,” said Emir.
Currently, under the tutelage Serge Parsani, the team earned their spot as a wild card in Giro d’Italia last May and made impact with Karel Vacek taking the second spot in Stage 7 and Nicolas Dalla Valle in fourth place in Stage 5.
The three Spanish debutants are also capable of turning the tables on the WorldTeam outfits, with the focus on Caja Rural and Euskaltel, regulars in European races, to do well while Equipo Kern Pharma, established in 2020, will also be gunning for some great results.
“Caja Rural and Euskaltel are no strangers due to their wide experience in European races. They are also known for unearthing new talents who went on to become world-class riders,” said Emir.
Meanwhile, Tudor Pro Cycling Team are known for their strong development programme and is made up mostly of academy riders who dominated national championships in the Elite and Under-23 categories.
Currently, under the guidance of former world champion Fabian Cancellara since 2022, Tudor Pro Cycling are also expected to be among the Tour’s strong contenders.
Last year, ProTeam outfits such as Alpecin-Deceuninck, Uno-X and Burgos-BH made impact after winning five out of eight stages.
“I have full confidence that the seven ProTeam outfits for this year’s edition, including the five debutants, are capable of putting up strong challenges with their good quality of riders,” said Emir.
This year’s LTdL is a government-back race with the National Sports Council (NSC) of Malaysia as organisers and the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) as sanctioning body.
Covering 11 out of the 12 states in Peninsula Malaysia, the 27th edition of the eight-stage race will feature three UCI WorldTeams, seven UCI ProTeams, 11 Continental outfits and one national team (Malaysia).