Dubbed as one of the richest stage races in the world, the US$400,000 Tour de Langkawi has steadily grown in status since its debut in 1996. Attracting some of the world's top teams eager for an early season race in the warmth, the TDL has been given a UCI classification of 2.3, and is seeking an upgrade to 2.2 next year.
The 10 day race has been shortened by two days this year, and totals 1310 kilometres. Starting with a hilly 20.3 kilometre individual time trial in Putrajaya, the race then makes its way north up the coast, with stage 2 finishing in Sitiawan. Stage 3 is from Lumut to Ipoh, taking the riders inland before the first real challenge of the tour on stage 4. This 176 kilometre stage from Tapah to Bentong takes in the Category 1 climb of Fraser Hill, and will certainly see a shake out in the general classification.
Stage 5 continues the journey south, from Bangi to Melaka (127.7 km), and the tour hits the southern tip of Malaysia on stage 6, finishing in Johor Bahru. Stages 7 and 8 take the riders back towards Kuala Lumpur, before the penultimate and toughest stage of the TDL - stage 9 from Kuala Lumpur to the Genting Highlands. The climb up to the Genting Highlands is 25 km long and around 1600 metres, and will certainly determine the winner of the tour.
The final stage is a 75.6 kilometre criterium in Kuala Lumpur, consisting of 12 laps of a 6.3 kilometre circuit. It's a colourful finale to the tour which promises to be the best yet this year.
2001 Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita) Mapei 2000 Christopher Horner (USA) Mercury 1999 Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita) Mapei 1998 Gabriele Missaglia (Ita) Mapei 1997 Luca Scinto (Ita) MG-Technogym 1996 Damian McDonald (Aus) Giant-AIS