Tour Down Under stage victor Cardoso to lead Footon Servetto in Malaysia
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Friday, February 05, 2010

Tour Down Under stage victor Cardoso to lead Footon Servetto in Malaysia

by Conal Andrews at 6:43 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 

Last month Portuguese rider Manuel Cardoso burst into the limelight when he won the third stage of the Santos Tour Down Under, out-sprinting Vuelta a España winner Alejandro Valverde and world champion Cadel Evans into Stirling.

The powerful display marks him out as a rider to watch in 2010, and sees his Footon Servetto team appoint him as leader for its just-confirmed campaign in the Tour de Langkawi.

He will chase stage wins in the Malaysian heat, aiming to add to a solid palmares which includes that Australian success, plus stage victories in the Volta a Portugal, Volta ao Algarve and Circuit du Lorraine.

Cardoso will be joined by a number of other strong riders, including the climber Rafael Valls. He won a stage and finished third overall in the Tour de San Luis in Argentina and, with the inclusion of the savage ascent to Genting Highlands, could be one of the big contenders in the race.

They will be joined by Matthias Brandle and Markus Eibegger from Austria, Pedro Merino and Rafael Valls from Spain, and the Australian Johnnie Walker. Merino is also a good climber and could show well in the mountains.

Last year the previous incarnation of the team competed in the Tour De Langkawi, and so its management will have a good idea of the challenges to be expected there. Named Fuji Servetto then, its rider Frederrik Kessiakoff too a fine fourth place overall. It was third in the teams’ classification.

A total of 15 teams have now been confirmed for the 2.HC-ranked Malaysian event, which runs from March 1 – 7. Footon Servetto and the Pro Continental team ISD Neri team are the highest-ranked of those; ProTour teams Astana and Caisse d’Epargne are rumoured to be also taking part, but this has not yet been officially confirmed.

There will be a total of 20 teams and 120 riders in the race. Stages will go from Kota Bharu - Kuala Berang (174.5km); Kuala Terengganu - Chukai (182.3km); Pekan - Mersing (145.6km); Mersin-Parit Sulong (163.5km); Muar - Port Dickson (116.9km) Putrajaya - Genting Highlands (102.8km) and Kuala Kubu Baru - Dataran Merdeka (133.7km).

At the end of those 1019.3 kilometres, the cycling world should have a better idea as to whether Cardoso can maintain the momentum he started last month.

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