PONTIAN, March 4 (Bernama) -- Fourteen national elite riders are among 23 cyclists listed in the Johor-Avanti Procycling Team, a team formed under the Johor Cycling Team (JCT).
JCT team director Datuk Mohd Al Khafiz Zainal said other than the 14 local riders, the team also has six professional riders from abroad, including 2012 world champion from Australia Paul Van Der Ploeg and Malaysia Cycling Tour runner-up last year, Sergey Kuzmin of Kazakhstan.
"We select riders based on their experience in cycling. This year, we are targetting to do well in Malaysia Cycling Tour. After being registered as an Asian pro team, we hope to participate in the Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) next year and be in the top three," he said after launching the JCT team in conjunction with Stage 6 of the 2014 LTdL, here.
According to Mohd Al Khafiz, the national riders listed are Ng Yong Li, Mohd Fakaruddin Daud, Hamdan Hamidon, Muhammad Faruq Daud, Mohd Arfy Qhairant Amran, Shah Firdaus Shahrom, M. Halieff Mohamad, Azrul Taufiq Annuar, Ahmad Firdaus Karim, Muhammad Faiz Roy, M. Mustazlee Ishak, Muhammad Izzat Hilmi Khalil, Muhammad Khairul Adha Rasol, Muhammad Al-Azani Zainal and M. Asry Suraizi Mat Riadzi.
Other than Van der Ploeg and Kuzmin, four other foreign riders in the list are Mehdi Tigrine (Belgium), Kay Chang (Taiwan), Chris Jory (Australia) and Nazar Jumabekov (Kazakhstan).
Mohd Al Khafiz said JCT would be handled by coach Luka Zele from Slovenia, the former Turkey national team's Olympic chief coach and assisted by several local coaches, including former national rider Mohd Fuad Daud.
"The closest competition is the Tour of Thailand which starts on April 1 and we are still waiting for the invitation from the organiser. It will be the first test for the team," he said.
Other than the Johor-Avanti Procycling Team, JCT has also set up six other teams, namely, Johor Cycling Team Junior, Pelapis Johor, Wanita Johor, Majlis Sukan Negeri Johor, Johor Mountain Force and Johor Extreme Bike.
"Our target for the back up team is the SUKMA this year. We will also send riders under JCT to Belgium to undergo training and take part in several races there," he added.
From Zuriati Zulmi -- BERNAMA