Jan 21, 2012
FIVE FORMER WINNERS ON THE START LINE IN PUTRAJAYA
21 January 2012, KUALA LUMPUR - For the first time in its 16 year old history, the 2012 Le Tour de Langkawi will feature five former overall winners on the start line in Putrajaya on February 24. Tom Danielson (2003), Fredy Gonzalez (2004), Anthony Charteau (2007), Jose Rujano (2010) and Jonathan Monsalve (2011) will try to double up. Only Paolo Lanfranchi (1999, 2001) managed to win LTdL twice so far.
“What a better recognition to our good job than the stars of the race to come back?”, wondered the chief operating officer of LTdL Emir Abdul Jalal. “The presence of these five winners once again evidences that they have kept a good memory of Malaysia.”
“This race is close to my heart. I made my career there”, commented Danielson who was a mountain biker recently turned into a road rider when he won LTdL at the age of 25. This performance allowed him to build his career with top teams Fassa Bortolo, Discovery Channel and Garmin. For various reasons, he only got a start at the Tour de France last year and finished 9th overall.
Danielson is the only one of this returning quintet to have taken part in LTdL after having won it. He finished 5th in 2005. Gonzalez moved on to teams who didn’t compete in LTdL. Charteau chose different race programs. “At the same time of the year, I was highly requested by my personal fan club in Africa after I’d won the Tour of Gabon”, the Frenchman explained. “When I rode for Spanish team Caisse d’Epargne, I tried to convince the directors to send a team to Malaysia but they couldn’t. I’ve always thought I’d come back and this year seems to be the right time.”
In the meantime, Charteau has become famous for becoming the King of the Mountain at the 2010 Tour de France. It was no surprise that a winner of Le Tour de Langkawi was obviously a great climber. “Our race and our country got a lot of mentions in the media worldwide when Charteau got this polka dot jersey at the Tour de France”, said Emir Abdul Jalal.
The same goes to the 2011 Tour of Italy where Rujano won stage 13 after battling against Alberto Contador in the grueling climbs. The little Venezuelan was remembered by the media as the man who soloed to victory in Genting Highlands the year before. He only didn’t come back to Malaysia last year because of a clash of events in his country but he said he’d take the first opportunity to try and win Le Tour de Langkawi again.
It’ll be interesting to see if Rujano plays his own cards this time around or if he tries to get a back-to-back victory for his fellow compatriot Monsalve who has a great future as a climber as well. The 2012 LTdL promises to be a very interesting one, tactically speaking, with so much winning experience on the start line.
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 (190km); Proton Shah Alam - Genting Highlands (108km); Bentong - Kuantan (205.8km); Pekan - Chukai (100.8km); Kemasik - Kuala Terengganu (165.7km) dan Tasik Kenyir - Kuala Terengganu (114.8km).