Tour de Langkawi: The expected protagonists meet the press on the eve of the race
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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Tour de Langkawi: The expected protagonists meet the press on the eve of the race

by Ben Atkins at 9:46 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de Langkawi
 
Andrea Guardini, Theo Bos, Harrif Sellah and Pierre Rolland look ahead to upcoming ten stages

tour de langkawi

Following the team presentation for the 2013 edition of le Tour de Langkawi, four of its expected stars attended a press conference where they spoke about their intentions for the upcoming ten-day race. Present was Astana’s Andrea Guardini, who holds two outright records for the race; last year he became the first ever rider to take six stages in a single edition, which gave him a record total of eleven stages in the race in just two editions.

The 22-year-old Italian’s main rival in the sprints is expected to be Blanco’s former multiple track World champion Theo Bos, who makes his first appearance in Malaysia, while the Malaysian who looks most likely to challenge is Harrif Salleh of the Terengganu Cycling Team.

"I am happy to be able to return to LTdL and especially to Langkawi, as this is the place where I collected my first win as a professional two years ago," Guardini told the press conference. “I also want to register my first win for my new team here.

"But I have to realise that the challenge this time is bigger with the presence of Bos and the Blanco Pro Cycling Team, who have come with very good preparations for this race,” he added. “Overall there will be eight flat stages, take away the longest stage from Temerloh to Kuantan (Stage 6), which could see some breakaway riders going for the win, seven other stages will, on paper, finish in bunch sprints."

Bos, unlike Guardini, already has a victory under his belt this season, having taken the second stage of last week’s Volta ao Algarve. While the Dutchman is certainly up for the challenge, with a Blanco team almost entirely dedicated to him, it has been the tropical Malaysian climate that has struck him most.

"As soon as I arrived here I was a bit surprised by the hot weather, but it will be an interesting challenge in the sprints as there are many vying for the wins,” Bos said. “That said, Blanco will have three others working for me.”

The Malaysian rider thought most likely to challenge the WorldTour and Professional Continental riders is Terangganu’s Harrif Sellah. The 24-year-old took a second, a third and a fourth place in last year’s race - all behind Guardini - leaving some big names in his wake, and he hopes to be able to compete with the big stars again this time.

"It will be a big challenge this year and the sprinters who have come are also of a much higher level,” he said, “but I will do my best to spring a surprise.”

Rolland is making his second appearance in Langkawi, having finished 12th in the 2011 edition of the race, and is one of the hot favourites for overall victory. As one of the World’s top cimbers, the Frenchman is certainly targeting the stage finishes at Cameron Highlands and Genting Highlands, but - at such an early stage of the season - refuses to talk about possible overall victory.

"I'm happy to be back in Langkawi,” he said. “Surely Cameron and Genting will be the deciders, but I believe this offers me an advantage because my team has prepared well for this.

"I have not seen the start list, so we will first take it stage by stage."

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