Thursday, January 22, 2015

A shorter race but one that promises excitement, say LTdL organisers


PUTRAJAYA: The Grik-Tanah Merah route is back in the Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) after a lapse of nine years.

The route has been introduced for the 20th edition of the eight-stage LTdL, which will be held from March 8-15.

The 170km route, which was won by Japan’s Koji Fukushima of Bridgestone Anchor in 2005, has been made the third stage of the cycling race, which will cover a total of 1,104.9km.
The Grik-Tanah Merah route is regarded as the most scenic stage as it runs past lush tropical forests and is marked with a tough climb over the Titiwangsa range.

It’s one of three stages that will take place in the flood-hit East Coast areas. The other two stages are from Kota Baru-Kuala Berang (165.4km) and Kuala Terengganu-Kuantan (200km).

Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin, who launched the LTdL routes at Menara KBS here, believes that the decision to hold races in the East Coast, despite the recent natural disasters, would help showcase how the badly affected flood areas have now recovered and the people have got their lives back on track.

“We had sent a team of officials from the Human Voyage (the organisers), the ministry and MNCF (Malaysian National Cycling Federation) to inspect the routes ... and found that they are accessible,” said Khairy.

“There are few damaged areas along the route which, by the time the race takes place in March, should be okay.”

This year’s race will have two fewer stages compared to last year and the overall distance shortened by 401.6km (1,506.5km for last edition).

The race will flag off in Langkawi and head east, making stops in Sungai Petani, Kuala Berang, Kuantan, Karak, Genting Highlands and Kuala Lumpur, where the iconic Dataran Merdeka will witness the ending of the thrilling eight-day battle.

“The route for this year’s LTdL will give cycling fans what they’ve been longing for,” said LTdL 2015 chief executive officer Datuk Malik Mydin.

“Although shortened to eight stages, we believe all elements required to make this an exciting race has been met. We are looking forward to a fitting celebration of 20 years of LTdL.
On the teams’ participation, Malik said the organisers will make announcements in stages in the coming days.

“We have so far received 22 entries but most teams have yet to finalise their full line-ups. That’s why we are unable to announce it yet,” he explained.

So far, only Australian outfit Orica GreenEdge, powered by rising star Caleb Owen and two-time Giro d’Italia stage winner Pieter Weening, and Turkish outfit Torku Sekerspor have unveiled their six-man roster.

THE EIGHT STAGES

Stage 1: Langkawi-Langkawi (101.1km)
Stage 2: Alor Setar-Sungai Petani (170km)
Stage 3: Gerik-Tanah Merah (170km)
Stage 4: Kota Baru-Kuala Berang (165.4km)
Stage 5: Kuala Terengganu-Kuantan (200km)
Stage 6: Maran-Karak (96.6km)
Stage 7: Shah Alam-Genting Highlands (105.7km)
Stage 8: Kuala Kubu Baru-Kuala Lumpur (96.1km)
Total distance: 1104.9km


by Tan Ming Wai - The Star

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