KUALA LUMPUR, MONDAY – Since the inception of Le Tour de Langkawi in 1996, only one edition of the race didn’t feature the ascent to Genting Highlands, as road works prevented the cyclists from riding up Malaysia’s legendary climb in 2008.
“When we look at the history of the race, we realized that something essential was missing that year, it’s no surprise that Genting was reinstated in the following edition and I can’t imagine Le Tour de Langkawi without Genting. This is definitely the queen-stage”, said the chief operating officer of Le Tour de Langkawi Emir Abdul Jalal.
The Genting Highlands stage is graded as a Hors category climb in the mountains classification and is the much awaited stage fir the riders competing in LTdL as it is the deciding factor in the race for the overall victory and the King of the Mountain (KOM) classification.
For the 18th edition of LTdL, Genting Malaysia Berhad once again continues its sponsorship with a contribution worth RM 800,000.00 in cash and kind, to ensure the success of the ‘Hottest race’ in Asia. Genting Malaysia Berhad is also the sponsor for the red KOM jersey.
Genting Malaysia Berhad’s Vice President Corporate Services Dato’ Kay Prakash presented the mock-cheque and LTdL 2013 KOM Red jersey to the Minister of Youth and Sports Malaysia YB Dato’ Sri Ahmad Shabery Cheek at Menara KBS Putrajaya.
“Genting Malaysia Berhad is honoured to once again become the official event sponsor for LTdL 2013 and to preserve this bond which has been forged since the inception of this prestigious cycling event in 1996,” said Dato’ Kay Prakash.
“The Le Tour de Langkawi is an internationally acclaimed cycling event that many enthusiasts of the sport look forward to every year, particularly the Genting ride, which is the fifth stage of the race,” she added.
Meanwhile, Dato’ Sri Ahmad Shabery also thanked Genting Malaysia Berhad for their continuous support of the race for the 18th time and hopes that their sponsorship continues to grow together with the race as it gains popularity among the ProTour teams.
In the past ten years, the late Ryan Cox from South Africa was the only rider able to beat the famous South American climbers when he clinched the overall title in 2005. Venezuelans and Colombians have what it takes to tackle the 25-km grueling climb as they hail from these kinds of mountains and usually make their way to Malaysia after an altitude training camp.
Last year, José Serpa scored an impressive fourth victory following his triple crown from 2006 to 2008 at the resort where he remains unbeaten. He won’t be in contention this time around as he has left the Androni Giocattoli team to upgrade to Pro Team Lampre-Merida. “It will definitely make the race more open this year”, explained Androni Giocattoli manager Gianni Savio who might have a less easy task directing to victory Venezuelans Carlos Ochoa and Jackson Rodriguez, the usual domestiques for Serpa.
The 2011 winner Jonathan Monsalve, also from Venezuela, will return after also changing team as he joined Vini Fantini, a squad that is no stranger to winning up to Genting Highlands as they did so with José Rujano in 2010 under the banner of ISD-Neri.
Savio stated that the door is open to a young talented climber to take over, citing his new Italian protégé Diego Rosa, 23, and his compatriot Fabio Aru, 22, riding for Astana. Pro Team Garmin-Sharp will line up Australian prodigy Lachlan Morton who collected a remarkable seventh place at Genting for his first participation to Le Tour de Langkawi in 2011 at the age of 19.
Spanish neo pro Carlos Verona, 20, beginning his career with giants Omega Pharma-Quick Step, will undergo the first big test of his career, while Malaysian fans have huge hopes for the emergence of 21 year old Amirull Fakhruddin Mazuki of Terengganu (TSG) who brilliantly finished third at the top of the Ijen crater during the Banyuwangi Tour of Ijen last December.
However, all eyes will be on Pierre Rolland. The Frenchman who won an Alpine stage at the Tour de France in the past two years (L’Alpe d’Huez 2011 and La Toussuire 2012) is a clear favourite for the 2013 Le Tour de Langkawi, a race he discovered two years. “Since then, I’ve always wanted to come back because Genting Highlands is a mythical climb where I want to win”, warned the superstar of Europcar.
“With the fantastic start list we have in preparation, this looks like going to be the best Le Tour de Langkawi of the past ten years and the best stage up to Genting Highlands ever contested”, said Emir Abdul Jalal.
The LTdL 2013, which carries the slogan “The Heat is On”, will officially begin in Kangar on February 21 and the race comprises 10 stages, covering 1427.6 kilometres.
The race is sanctioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI) as a 2.HC (hors category) race on the UCI Asia Tour calendar, organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, via the National Sports Council (NSC) in association with the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF).
Previous winners of the LTdL Genting Highlands stage:
- 1996: Damian McDonald (Aus/Giant Australia)
- 1997: Luca Scinto (Ita/MG-Technogym)
- 1998: Giuliano Figueras (Ita/Mapei)
- 1999: Marcus Ljunqvist (Swe/Cantina Tollo)
- 2000: Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio (Mex/Panaria)
- 2001: Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita/Mapei)
- 2002: Hernan Dario Munoz (Col/Colombia-Selle Italia)
- 2003: Hernan Dario Munoz (Col/Colombia-Selle Italia)
- 2004: Ruber Marin (Col/Colombia-Selle Italia)
- 2005: Ryan Cox (RSA/Barloworld)
- 2006: José Serpa (Col/Selle Italia-Diquigiovanni)
- 2007: José Serpa (Col/Diquigiovanni)
- 2009: José Serpa (Col/Diquigiovanni)
- 2010: José Rujano (Ven/ ISD Neri)
- 2011: Jonathan Monsalve (Ven/ Androni Giocattoli)
- 2012: José Serpa (Col/ Androni Giocattoli)