At least five WorldTour teams plus tough route for 2014 Tour de Langkawi
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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

At least five WorldTour teams plus tough route for 2014 Tour de Langkawi

by Shane Stokes at 7:13 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de Langkawi
Course details launched for 2.HC-ranked Malaysian race

Julian ArredondoConfirming that the Saxo Bank team will line out in next year’s race, the organisers of the Tour de Langkawi have confirmed to VeloNation that at least four other WorldTour teams will be part of the 2.HC event in 2014.

Five WorldTour teams competed this season and at least the same number again will be present at the start next February 27th. However there is a possibility that more could also take part, with negotiations ongoing at present.

The field will also feature a number of big Pro Continental teams. It was won by Julian Arredondo (Nippo - De Rosa) in 2013.

Next year's event will begin on the Malaysian holiday island of Lankgawi and will once again return to the climb of Genting Highlands, one of the toughest ascents in the sport. According to the organisers, the other stages in next year’s race should be sufficiently difficult to keep the GC battle plus the King of the Mountains competition open until the conclusion of the event.

“We are expecting exciting competition with all leaders’ jerseys possibly changing hands every day,” said the Minister of Youth and Sports, YB Khairy Jamaluddin. “It will be an open race until the very end, which will definitely keep the fans excited.”

The action will get underway with a 101.1 kilometre stage on Langkawi island. Previously a mainly flat race, the 2014 edition will trace slightly tougher roads, with five category four climbs dotted along the new route.

Stage two begins at Sungai Petani on the Malaysian mainland and after encountering the category four climb at Bukit Matam (km 71.8), the peloton will race on to a likely bunch finish at Taiping, 132.5 kilometres after the drop of the flag.

That is followed by an undulating 166.5 kilometre race from Kampar to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, with the finishing circuit at Dataran Merdeka having served for many years as the location of the final stage. Two category four climbs will feature along the route, but these will be dwarfed by the following day’s race from MAS Subang to the Genting Highlands. Covering 110.9 kilometres, the ferociously steep final climb will feature a new finish atop the mountain at the Mushroom Farm.

After the climbers had their say, the sprinters will move back to the fore on the fifth stage from Karak to Rembau. Although the 139.3 kilometre leg has two category three climbs near the final, at Senaling and Rembau respectively, a bunch finish is predicted.

The remaining days could also go the same way, although breakaway riders and GC contenders trying to make up lost time will do what they can to foil the sprinters. Day six brings the riders 199.1 kilometres from Melaka to Pontian Kechil, while stage seven is the longest of the race at 230.1 kilometres. It runs from Kota Tinggi to Pekan and could feature strong winds by the coast.

Those gusts could also break up the following 202.6 kilometre stage from Kuantan to Marang, while two category four climbs are the main attacking points on stage nine from Bandar Permaisuri to Kuala Terengganu.

The final day of racing is also in the same region, starting at Tasik Kenyir and returning to Kuala Terenganu, where the peloton will scrap it out for the sprint and final GC positions. The short 114.7 kilometre stage should lead to aggressive racing and brings the total distance for the 2014 event to 1506.5 kilometres.

Khairy believes that the strength of the various teams will make it hard for any individual squad to control the race, thus making the contest more open.

He emphasised the effect that the sweltering conditions will also have, saying that this presents an additional challenge to the participating riders.

“LTdL is not only known for racing under the intense heat, the hardest climb up to Genting Highlands. It is also known that the race receives the warmest welcome and support from all Malaysians. For Asian riders, LTdL is a platform to showcase their talents against the best in the world.”

"Theo Bos, Francesco Chicchi, Brian Coquard, Pierre Rolland and Andrea Guardini provided a healthy impact for the race last year. Their superstar status raised the interest of the international media about the race and last year we received increased coverage because of that.”

He said that the race was broadcast to more than 160 countries in 2013, with Eurosport featuring a ten hour highlights package.

The presence of Astana, Omega Pharma-Quickstep, Garmin-Sharp, Blanco Pro Cycling and Orica-GreenEdge also helped boost the coverage and exposure.

Le Tour de Langkawi 2014 (2.HC):

Stage 1, Thursday 27th February 2014: Langkawi (101.1km)
Stage 2, Friday 28th February 2014: Sungai Petani - Taiping (132.5km)
Stage 3, Saturday 1st March 2014: Kampar - Kuala Lumpur (166.5km)
Stage 4, Sunday 2nd March 2014: MAS Subang - Genting Highlands (110.9km)
Stage 5, Monday 3rd March 2014: Karak - Rembau (139.3km)
Stage 6, Tuesday 4th March 2014: Melaka - Pontian Kechil (199.1km)
Stage 7, Wednesday 5th March 2014: Kota Tinggi - Pekan (230.1km)
Stage 8, Thursday 6th March 2014: Kuantan - Marang (202.6km)
Stage 9, Friday 7th March 2014: Bandar Permaisuri - Kuala Terengganu (109.7km)
Stage 10, Saturday 8th March 2014: Tasik Kenyir - Kuala Terenganu Loop (114.7km)

Total distance: 1506.5km


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