Jan 6, 2012
AISAN IN A WINNING MOOD DESPITE INJURY-PLAGUED ROSTER
6 January 2012, KUALA LUMPUR - In two participations to Le Tour de Langkawi, Japanese team Aisan Racing has made history on the Asia Tour by scoring back-to-back stage victories. Stage 4 winner in 2010 Taiji Nishitani will be in action again from February 24 to March 4 but his team-mate Takeaki Ayabe who struck the world of cycling by beating European and South American climbers at the top of the Cameron Highlands last year will give the Malaysian event a miss this time around as he broke a knee at the end of the 2011 season.
“We’ll miss him”, explained Nishitani, “but we’ll come back with the same team and staff that enjoyed success in the past two years and we hope to win a stage once again.” At the age of 31, Nishitani has been a regular scorer on the Asia Tour since he joined Aisan in 2006. Among the nineteen UCI victories he’s got under his belt, he was the 2009 Japanese national champion. But he retains his stage win at the 2010 Le Tour de Langkawi as a very special one. “That day, our team work was perfect”, he said as he remembered the lead out he got at the end from Kazuhiro Mori. It allowed him to beat Australian star in the making Michael Matthews and Spanish experienced sprinter Vidal Celis in Parit Sulong.
“In the early years of Le Tour de Langkawi, it was seen as something exceptional when an Asian rider won a stage”, chief operating officer Emir Abdul Jalal commented. “Hong Kong’s Wang Kam Po was the first rider to do in 2000. But now everyone knows that Asians can perform as well. With riders like Nishitani and a team like Aisan, we’re never disappointed. Japanese cyclists always produce a great show.” Malaysian fans always remember the systematic attacks from the gun by Koji Fukushima whose elder brother Shinichi will participate to LTdL once again this year with Malaysian continental team Terengganu.
The Aisan Racing team has also secured a start at the Tour of Oman preceding Le Tour de Langkawi. Some of their riders have already resumed racing with the Jayco Bay Crits in Australia. Nishitani was one of them. “I needed speed in my legs before taking part in the track world cup in Beijing in mid-January”, he said. “We need to score points for Japan to qualify more riders for the Olympics. By the end of February, I’m confident that my form will be impeccable and I should come to the sprints in Malaysia with a good speed in the legs after this block of specific training.”
LTdL 2012 is organised by the National Sports Council as a mark of continuity to the organisation of the Ministry of Youth and Sports in 2010 and 2011 in collaboration with the Malaysian National Cycling Federation. The race maintains a 2.HC (Hors Classe) status and is recognised and sanctioned by the UCI and UCI Asia Tour. LTdL 2012 is expected to feature 22 professional teams.
The 10 day race begins on February 24 with Individual time trial along a 20.3 km course in Putrajaya to kick off the race; followed by stage 2 Putrajaya - Melaka (151.0km); Stage 3 Ayer Keroh - Parit Sulong (187.6km); Batu Pahat - Muar (169.4km); Ayer Keroh - Pandan Indah (187.2km); Proton Shah Alam - Genting Highlands (108km); Bentong - Kuantan (215.8km); Pekan - Chukai (100.8km); Kemasik - Kuala Terengganu (169.4km) dan Tasik Kenyir - Kuala Terengganu (116.6km).