Saturday, January 3, 2009

LeTour de Langkawi 2009

LE Tour de Langkawi (LTdL), Malaysia's biggest race sees its shortest ever edition running from February 9 to 15 next year, driven into cost-cutting measures by the global economic meltdown.

Nevertheless, the seven-stage hors categorie race offers and enticing affair as an improved, compact version of the race that covers 1,029 kilometres in total promises to pile the pressure on a bigger mix of riders in a 120-strong peloton made up of 20 teams.

Undulations in Stage One from Putrajaya to Senawang will see the mountains classification up for grabs right from the start, throwing a sense of wide-openness into the picture, with sprinters' teams not guaranteed a bunched sprint finish. Stage Two sees another categorised climb early in the 161.7 km stage, which can see the sprinters' teams really staking their claim, but that bunch sprint they will look for is not guaranteed.

Tricky categorised climbs are sprinkled throughout the six stages prior to the traditional final stage, the Kuala Lumpur Criterium on Feb 15. This time around, the all-rounders have more options throughout the race with undulating routes mixed in all but two stages. The sprinters' teams can have six stages to look for, but they will have to work harder than before.

The queen stage, the climb to the top of Genting Highlands makes a return this time around, after being replaced by Fraser's Hill in the 13th edition this year, but via a short 95.6km route on the fifth day from Petaling Jaya. This will undoubtedly be the decider, but damage control measures can be taken, given the form of the earlier stages, thus throwing into the picture an expectation of a non-pure climber like 2007 winner Anthony Charteau having the possibility to seize a lead in earlier stages and defend it up Genting, which will now have the possibility of producing an extremely exciting decider.


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