|LTdL Sprint King Andrea Guardini returns to add more to his stage record.|
KUALA LUMPUR, 10 FEBRUARY 2015 - Andrea Guardini will tackle the Le Tour de Langkawi for the fifth consecutive time when the race will kick off on Malaysia’s paradisiacal island on March 8 (to be concluded in Kuala Lumpur on March 15), a place that has remained close to his heart.
“I’ll never forget that I started my pro cycling career in Langkawi and I got my first victory on day 1 in Langkawi”, said the Italian sprinter from the Astana team. That day, 23rd January 2011, Guardini started his incredible conquest of fourteen stage victories in four editions of the event. He definitely tops the tally, followed by Australia’s Graeme Brown who won nine stages from 2002 to 2005. He also holds the record of stage wins in one single LTdL with six in 2012.
Guardini, now 25, is a top sprinter with World Tour wins under his belt, at the 2012 Giro d’Italia and the 2014 Eneco Tour. He’s still young but he already faces the competition of younger fast riders eager to edge him out and take over from him in the tradition of LTdL as a champions making factory.
“I’m very aware of the qualities of Caleb Ewan and Jakub Mareczko”, said Guardini of the two 20-year old who will make their debut at LTdL this year. “I know Mareczko, he’s from Brescia, not far from my hometown, he’s already a very good sprinter. He has won two stages in Venezuela [at the Vuelta Tachira] in January.”
Mareczko, also a Polish-born Italian who migrated with his mother when he was five years old, rides for Guardini’s old team previously known as Farnese Vini and now renamed Southeast, while Ewan, an Australian whose mother migrated from Seoul, Korea, to Sydney, won two stages for Orica-GreenEdge at the Herald Sun Tour last week.
Astana will also bring a 20-year old promising cyclist to Malaysia but he’s a climber: Miguel Angel Lopez is the Colombian winner of the 2014 Tour de l’Avenir – the U23 version of the Tour de France. He might well be this year’s sensation atop Genting Highlands.
“Astana is one of the favorite teams of Malaysian cycling fans”, said the CEO of the 2015 Le Tour de Langkawi Datuk Malik Mydin. “It’s the only World Team from Asia so our race perfectly fits in their philosophy to bridge Europe and Asia throughout the sport of cycling. It’s the winning team of the Tour de France with Vincenzo Nibali last year and they return to Malaysia with a line-up we like very much: a top sprinter, a top climber in the making and four Kazakhs riders including Aleksandr Dyachenko who finished fourth and won the Asian individual classification three years ago. They are the favorites for the Asian team classification this time around.”
THE ASTANA TEAM FOR THE 2015 LE TOUR DE LANGKAWI:
Andrea GUARDINI (Ita), Aleksandr DYACHENKO (Kaz), Miguel Angel LOPEZ (Col), Daniil FOMINYKH (Kaz), Maxat AYAZBAYEV (Kaz), Arman KAMYSHEV (Kaz).