Former winner Jose Rujano to lead Androni team in Tour de Langkawi
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Monday, January 16, 2012

Former winner Jose Rujano to lead Androni team in Tour de Langkawi

by VeloNation Press at 6:04 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de Langkawi
Defending champion Monsavle also returns to fight for overall

Jose RujanoGiro d’Italia stage winner Jose Rujano will get what will be a very important season for him underway on February 24th when he lines out in the Tour de Langkawi, a race he won in 2010.

The climber had a strong 2011 season and if he can manage to build on that, his goal of a podium finish or better in the Giro d’Italia seems possible. He’s been confirmed as the leader of the Androni Giocattoli squad in the Malaysian race and a big result there would give him motivation for the months to follow.

He will also be joined by Jonathan Monsalve, who won the race last season.

“Le Tour de Langkawi will be their first race of the year”, confirmed team manager Gianni Savio. “If Rujano has the condition we expect, he’ll be our captain. The inaugural time trial shouldn’t be a problem for him…he’s got a good history with time trialling in Malaysia.”

Savio is referring to the 2005 race, when Rujano finished third in the 20-km stage in Bachok which was won by Australian specialist Nathan O’Neill. He went on to finish second overall behind Ryan Cox.

If his riders are to win the race, Savio knows the day when a big result must happen. “The Genting stage will be our main goal once again,” he said. “But the main difficulty of Le Tour de Langkawi is to control the race in the last four stages. As always, we’ll honour the race as much as we can but it won’t be an easy one to win this year. We’ll face a very strong competition.”

Savio is correct in that assessment; amongst those his team will be competing against is the Garmin-Barracuda team, which will be led by Tom Danielson. He won the Tour de Langkawi in 2003 and last year was the leading American rider in ninth overall in the Tour de France.

Also confirmed as taking part is Alexandre Vinokourov, who will lead the Astana squad in his final pro season.

Rujano and Monsalve will need strong support from their team-mates to battle those teams and also the other squads which will line out on February 24th. They will be backed by fellow Venezuelans Carlos Ochoa and Jackson Rodriguez, who will both build their form this month in the Tour of San Luis in Argentina. Alessandro De Marchi will return after helping Monsalve to his win last year. The team will be completed by the young Italian Omar Bertazzo, who will likely be the rider for the sprints.

Monsalve’s success in 2011 was the biggest of his career and more results were expected after that. However his season had a dry spell; Savio explains what happened, and hopes for more consistency in 2012. “Monsalve had an injury after Le Tour de Langkawi last year, that’s why it was his only victory of the year,” he said. “But he returned and produced a strong showing at the late season Italian races.”

His teams have been one of the strongest squads over a long period of time, and first won the race back in 2002 with the Colombian Hernan Dario Munoz. His riders always ride aggressively in the event, and Le Tour de Langkawi chief operating officer Emir Abdul Jalal welcomes them back again.

“We’ve always liked this team and we’re happy to learn that they have just been awarded a wild card for the 2012 Giro d’Italia as well,” he said.

The ten day, 2.HC-ranked race starts on February 24 with 20.3 kilometre individual time trial in Putrajaya.


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