KUALA TERENGGANU – It’s all calm in the ‘Land of Cyclists’ for now. But come Saturday, a colourful and intense cycling action is set to dazzle fans and spectators as 131 riders representing 22 teams line up in Kerteh to begin their quest for excellence in the 27th edition of the PETRONAS Le Tour de Langkawi 2023.

For the second time, Kerteh, located some 150km away from Kuala Terengganu, plays host to the race, this time the opening stage of the 2023 edition – two years after first hosting the race as the finish venue in 2020.

Kuala Terengganu has been a regular of the Tour since 1996 when it first hosted Stage 9 (finish venue) and Stage 10 (start venue) of the inaugural edition. Since 1996, Kuala Terengganu has been the race’s start venue 11 times and 10 times as a finish venue, stating Terengganu’s solid support in the Tour.

The government of Terengganu, through Tourism Terengganu, has signed as the main sponsor of this year’s Tour, again proving their commitment toward the success of the Tour and the sport of cycling.

Terengganu is reaping the benefits from its commitment and involvement in the Tour as it has now become one the country’s top states in producing top track and road cyclists which includes Azizulhasni Awang, Hariff Saleh, Anuar Manan and Adiq Husainie.

Meanwhile, teams and riders have started arriving in the city ahead of tomorrow’s team presentation ceremony here.

The early morning drizzle did not deter riders from Korea’s KSPO, China’s Li Ning, Green Project Bardiani CSF Fanzine and Corratec-Selle Itallia who were out on their routine rides in the city to get themselves to the local surroundings and climate.

Huge celebrations and receptions from local fans and spectators are expected in Kerteh, Kuala Terengganu and along the 187.4km route as they join the excitement of the 27th edition of the ProSeries action, which features two WorldTeam, eight ProTeam, 11 Continental and one national outfit.

Also, expect the locals to turn up in droves to rally behind their local heroes and team – the Terengganu Polygon Cycling Team (TSG), currently the country’s top Continental team, which will parade their best line-up including top sprinters in Hariff Salleh and best climbers in two-time King of Mountains jersey holder Muhammad Nur Aiman Zariff and reigning Asian champion Jambaljamts Sainbayar of Mongolia.

For TSG, there is no greater motivation than winning Saturday’s opening stage, presenting its top sprinter Mohd Hariff Salleh the best chance to be on the podium in his home state.

Meanwhile, it’s all systems go as organisers put their final touches for tomorrow’s customary Team Presentation ceremony scheduled at Taman Panoramik, a new landscape at the Syahbandar Recreation Park here, the finish venue for Saturday’s Stage 1.

Stage 1 starts from Mesra Mall in Kerteh on Saturday morning (11 am), offering sprinters the best chance to be on the podium with three sprint zones and two category 4 climbs before finishing at Dataran Syahbandar here.

Themed ‘Beat The Heat’, PETRONAS Le Tour de Langkawi 2023 is organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports through the National Sports Council (NSC), in collaboration with the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF).

The 1,278.1km 8-stage race traverses through 11 states in the Peninsular, featuring 131 riders from 22 teams which include two WorldTeam outfits – Astana Qazaqstan and EF Education-EasyPost. The race ends on Sept 29 in front of PETRONAS Twin Tower on Sept 30.