Past winner Charteau heads Europcar team in Tour de Langkawi
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Sunday, February 05, 2012

Past winner Charteau heads Europcar team in Tour de Langkawi

by VeloNation Press at 8:38 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de Langkawi
 
Five former winners to take part in Malaysian race

Anthony CharteauFormer race winner and 2010 Tour de France King of the Mountains Anthony Charteau will lead the Europcar team in this year’s Tour de Langkawi, which begins in just under three week’s time in Putrajaya, near Kuala Lumpur. The Frenchman joins other race contenders including Tom Danielson (Garmin-Cervélo) and Alexandre Vinokourov (Astana) in the 2.HC race, which will begin with a 20.3 kilometre time trial and also includes a stage to the top of the ferociously steep Genting Highlands.

Charteau will aim to perform strongly in the latter, knowing that a good ride there will pave the way for a high overall finish.

“Le Tour de Langkawi has a special place in my heart,” he said, almost five years after winning the Cameron Highlands stage and nabbing the race lead which he would defend until the end. “I’ve always wanted to ride Le Tour de Langkawi again, despite the long trip from France.”

Charteau raced with the Caisse d’Epargne team in 2008 and 2009, and couldn’t compete in the race as it didn’t participate. “When I rode for Spanish team Caisse d’Epargne, I tried to convince the directors to send a team to Malaysia but they couldn’t,” he said.

He then moved to Bbox Bouygues Telecom in 2010 and remained with that team when it became Europcar prior to the start of last season.

The squad disputed the Tropicale Amissa Bongo instead of Langkawi in both those years and so he raced there. That worked out well, as he was the overall winner on both occasions. He also took stage two of the Route du Sud last year. Now he’s a chance to return to Malaysia. “I’ve always thought I’d come back and this year seems to be the right time,” he said.

Another previously-successful rider is Yohann Gene, who will return three years after taking the final stage in Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur, in 2009. He believes he will have one advantage over many riders, and will aim to exploit that during the ten day race.

“Malaysia has the same kind of hot and humid climate as Guadeloupe where I come from”, he said.

In all five former winners will take part in the race; Danielson [the victor in 2003] is returning, as are Freddy Gonzalez [2004], Charteau [2007], Jose Rujano [2010] and last year’s victor Yonnatha Monsalve. Each of those will attempt to take a second title, thus joining the only other rider who previously did so, Paolo Lanfranchi. The latter triumphed in both 1999 and 2001.

“What a better recognition to our good work than the stars of the race coming back?” said Emir Abjul Jalal recently, the chief operating officer of the race. “The presence of these five winners once again proves that they have kept a good memory of Malaysia.”

He’s also pleased to see Europcar returning to the race. “The love affair between Jean-René Bernaudeau’s team and Le Tour de Langkawi is a long-living one,” he said. “They came as an amateur team called Vendée U to the very first LTdL back in 1996 and they returned in 2000 as soon as they became a professional team under the name of Bonjour. Their very first pro win was stage 3 of Le Tour de Langkawi from Taiping to Sitiawan with Damien Nazon twelve years ago!

“We appreciate very much how faithful they are to our country and we strongly hope to see them perform again this time around.”

The 10 day race begins on February 24 the individual time trial in Putrajaya. Stage finishes then follow in Melaka, Parit Sulong, Muar, Pandan Indah, Genting Highlands, Kuantan, Chukai, and two in Kuala Terengganu.

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