Argos Shimano completes 2014 roster by signing Sea Keong Loh
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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Argos Shimano completes 2014 roster by signing Sea Keong Loh

by VeloNation Press at 9:52 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
Contract makes history for Malaysian cycling with first-ever WorldTour rider

Argos ShimanoCapitalizing on a year when he won three races, including the overall classification of the Jelajah Malaysia, Sea Keong Loh has become the first South East Asian and first Malaysian rider to sign for a WorldTour team.

The 27 year old has been confirmed as the final signing to the squad for 2014, taking his place alongside big names such as quadruple Tour de France stage winner Marcel Kittel and the rapid John Degenkolb.

Loh’s contract is an important one for the Malaysian, of course, but so to for his country and for the globalisation of cycling. It shows that riders from countries outside the traditional heartlands are now getting a break in the sport, and can only enhance the chances of others from outside Europe and the USA from being considered for future contracts.

“We believe that Asian cycling has great potential, and it is our aim to help develop Asian riders and bring them to the highest level,” explained the team’s general manager Iwan Spekenbrink. “We have experienced this with Cheng Ji [the team’s Chinese rider – ed.], who has been part of our project since the beginning.

“It has been impressive to see the progress he has made since his arrival on the European pro scene; he is now racing in races like the Giro d'Italia, Vuelta a España and Milan–San Remo, for example. We will be aiming to follow a similar path with Loh as well.”

Loh showed promise early on when he won a stage of the Tour of Thailand while with the Chinese-backed, European based Marco Polo team. However his time with the squad came to an end in 2011 and, unable to find another team, he returned to his country frustrated with the lack of opportunities open to him. He eventually inked a deal with the OCBC Singapore continental team and said that he would give himself a set amount of time to make it in the sport.

This season has been a successful one for him and helped him to secure an important contract. He won stages of the Tour of Thailand and Tour of Singkarak, and also emerged best in the Jelajah Malaysia. Other important placings include second in the Melaka Governor’s Cup and ninth in the Tour of Okinawa.

“I feel honoured to be selected for the team,” he stated. “It has taken a lot of hard work and dedication to reach this level. I am looking forward to working with the team, as I think I can benefit greatly from the sporting environment that the team offers.

“With good guidance and a solid program I will be focused on developing as a cyclist and reaching my full potential.”

Although he is yet to clock up big results in Europe, Spekenbrink believes he could have a strong future ahead. “We see a lot of potential in Loh,” the Dutchman stated. “We have followed him throughout the season, and he has achieved some good results.

“When we select riders for the team, results are important but so is personality. With his positive attitude and eagerness to improve, Loh’s character fits perfectly in the team.”

It is yet to be confirmed of Argos Shimano will ride the Tour de Langkawi. Thus far only Saxo Tinkoff has been confirmed for the race, but it is understood that at least five WorldTour teams will take part in the 2014 event.

Argos Shimano did not compete in 2013 but its predecessor, Skil Shimano, rode the race in the past. One of its riders, Kittel, took the first big sprint win of his pro career when he won a stage of the Tour de Langkawi in 2011.

The 2014 edition of the race will begin on Langkawi island on February 27th.

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