SHAH ALAM, 18 February 2017 : “This is a real coup for our event”, Emir explained. “Pozzato is one of the true stars of world’s cycling, not only because of his look but moreover because of his records. He’s a stage winner in every single Grand Tour: Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Vuelta a Espana. He also the winner of the 2006 Milan-Sanremo, a race in which he made the top ten again just one year ago. It means he’s still very competitive and he’ll deliver a great show here in Malaysia. It reminds of the times when we were welcoming world class heroes like Gianni Bugno with Mapei, Jens Voigt or Stuart O’Grady with Crédit Agricole.”
A true lover of travelling in Asia, predominantly in Singapore, Japan and China, Pozzato will make his debut at Le Tour de Langkawi at the age of 35 with the aim of gearing up for Milan-Sanremo and helping out Mareczko.
Having signed for a team called UAE Abu Dhabi, stage victories record holder Andrea Guardini (22) will understandably miss LTdL due to a clash of events with the Abu Dhabi Tour but Mareczko is tipped to become his successor following six years of domination in the sprint finishes by the former Astana fast man.
A stage winner in Rembau last year, the Polish-born diminutive Italian recently finished third in stage 2 of the Dubai Tour, beating no less than Mark Cavendish and John Degenkolb.
Other sprinters to watch this time around will be Andrea Palini, also an Italian stage winner at LTdL last year, now with Androni Giocattoli, his compatriots Nicolas Marini of Nippo-Vini Fantini as well as Marco Maronese and Paolo Simion with Bardiani CSF, New Zealand’s veteran Greg Henderson of Unitedhealthcare, Australian sensation Scott Sunderland from IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness who used to challenge Azizul Hasni Awang on the track in keirin competitions, Japan’s Shiki Kuroeda with Aisan, Korea’s Park Sung Baek of KSPO and local stars Anuar Manan and Harrif Saleh from Terengganu TSG.
Following the highly expected inaugural sprinters show in Kuala Terengganu on Wednesday 22 February, GC contenders will be in action on the way to Grik. Defending champion Reinardt Janse van Rensburg has passed the leadership of the WorldTour Dimension Data team to his homonymous Jacques Janse van Rensburg who already made the final top ten of LTdL three times previously.
Colombian sensation Egan Bernal of Androni Giocattoli is touted to follow the path of his compatriot Miguel Angel “Superman” Lopez who won the queen stage in the Cameron Highlands last year. Runner up Daniel Jaramillo, also from Colombia, will be back in contention with an increased motivation at the helm of Unitedhealthcare while his promising compatriots Fernando Orjuela and Bernardo Suaza will make their debut at LTdL with the newly upgraded Pro Continental squad Manzana-Postobon.
Other GC riders to watch will be Italy’s Enrico Barbin of Bardiani CSF, Australia’s Cameron Bayly from IsoWhey Sports Swisswellness, Danish skinny climber John Ebsen of Infinite AIS, Indonesia’s Dadi Suryadi from Terengganu TSG while Kazakhstanis Yevgeniy Gidich of Vino Astana Motors and Maxat Ayazbayev of Keyi Look are tipped for leading the charge to the best Asian rider competition.
“We’ve given more chance to Asians to express their talent this year”, Emir said. “However, this is a starting field that we can be proud of considering the economically difficult time. We have riders from all five continents, from USA, Australia, Europe, Colombia and South Africa, all established cycling territories, but also Rwanda, Eritrea and Brazil in addition to nine Asian nations.”
Organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports Malaysia and managed by Ciclista Sports Sdn Bhd, the 22nd edition of Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) from 22 February to 1 March, 2017 is set to cover more than 1,200km over 8 stages, the UCI 2.HC (hors category) race featuring again as one of the biggest events on the UCI Asia Tour calendar.