Sprinters Van Poppel and Förster to lead UnitedHealthcare team in Tour de Langkawi
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sprinters Van Poppel and Förster to lead UnitedHealthcare team in Tour de Langkawi

by Shane Stokes at 6:15 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Tour de Langkawi
 
Young Dutch talent aiming for success

United HealthcareBoy Van Poppel, the talented son of former Tour de France Maillot Vert Jean Paul Van Poppel, will get his new pro contract with the UnitedHealthcare team underway at next month’s Tour de Langkawi.

The 22 year old former world junior cyclo-cross champion has been racing for several seasons with the Rabobank Continental Team, and stunned the world of cycling when, at 20 years old, he outsprinted riders such as Mark Cavendish and Tyler Farrar to win stage five of the Tour of Missouri.

He won a tough uphill bunch gallop into Jefferson City, punching the air with delight as he lead team-mate Michael Van Stayen over the line.

Van Poppel’s acquisition is just one of several big name signings made by the American team, which has now moved up a level to Pro Continental level. Another new addition is the German sprinter Robert Förster, a stage winner in the Giro d’Italia and the Vuelta a España, and he too will make his UnitedHealthcare debut in Malaysia.

Team director Mike Tamayo is determined that the riders will make their mark this season, and feels the Malaysian event will get things off on a strong note. “Le Tour de Langkawi has been a staple when you think of quality events at the beginning of the season. We are excited to take part in this year’s edition,” he stated. “Team UnitedHealthcare is hoping to use it as an opportunity to debut our international season.”

“We are bringing a fast team with Robert Förster, Boy Van Poppel, Hilton Clarke and Karl Menzies. Our climbers for the two GC deciding days are Chris Jones and Max Jenkins. With so many opportunities for bunch sprints, we aligned our roster selection in a way to pursue stages.”

While the race is invariably won by a climber, the nature of most of the stages mean that there is ample opportunity for bunch gallops. UnitedHealthcare should be amongst the fastest squads during the January 23 – February 1st race, and therefore has the opportunity to leave Malaysia with at least one victory to its credit.

It is aiming to follow in the success of previous successful American squads, including Shaklee and Saturn. Early stage winners from North America include the Canadian riders Eric Wohlberg and Brian Walton plus the US competitor Frank McCormack, while Chris Horner (2000) and Tom Danielson (2003) triumphed overall. Saul Raisin also won a stage for Crédit Agricole in 2006.

Tour de Langkawi CEO Mohamed Salleh underlined that having a strong global participation is important. “We have a long tradition of American teams taking part in our event. This is part of Malaysian hospitality. We want cyclists from all over the world to attend. Once again all the continents will be represented at LTdL in 2011.”

The 2011 edition of the Malaysian race will begin on the beautiful island of Langkawi, and ends 1315.4 kilometres later in Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur. Talented young rider Van Poppel will hope to win one of the ten stages, getting his pro career underway in style.

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UnitedHealthcare for Tour de Langkawi:

Hilton Clarke (Australia)
Robert Förster (Germany)
Max Jenkins (USA)
Chris Jones (USA)
Karl Menzies (Australia)
Boy Van Poppel (Netherlands)

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