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10th Telekom Malaysia Tour de Langkawi - 2.HC
Malaysia, January 28-February 6, 2005
By Anthony Tan
2005 marks the 10th anniversary of the Telekom Malaysia Le Tour de Langkawi, which boasts its best line-up of teams and riders since the race's inception in 1996. Although not part of the newly restructured professional cycling calendar we now know as the UCI ProTour, events such as the Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under in Australia and Le Tour de Langkawi have clearly benefited from a revised race format not unlike US baseball's Major League, where the top 19 ProTour teams have all expanded their rosters to accommodate the participation requirements set by the UCI.
With no less than four ProTour teams including the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, Liberty Seguros, Domina Vacanza and Credit Agricole, this year's LTdL is set to field a star-studded cast of teams and riders in this Hors Categorie-classified stage race.
Kicking off Friday, January 28, the race will begin with a 106.9 kilometre road stage on the holiday island that gives this race its name, the tourist Mecca of Langkawi a stone's throw away from the northwestern-most tip of Malaysia. But as the saying goes, there's no rest for the wicked, as the very next day the race caravan is ferried across to the mainland for a second flat stage from Kangar to Kepala Batas, a distance of 171.6 km. On Sunday, the peloton experience their first taste of bigger mountains to come with two classified climbs along the 172.5 km Stage 3 route from Gerik to Tanah Merah, the longest day of the tour.
Then, in what will provide the first serious reordering on general classification, a pancake-flat 20.3 kilometre race against the clock greets each of the riders at the coastal village of Bachok. Continuing the clockwise route along the east coast are the fifth and sixth stages from Kota Bahru to Kuala Terengganu (163.9 km) and Kuala Berang to Cukai (152.0 km), before the race turns inland, inexorably leading to the feared stage to Genting Highlands on Wednesday, February 2 - but not before a difficult, undulating 167.7 km Stage 7 from Maran and Raub the day before.
Survivors of the short (97.9 km) but sadistic Stage 8 to Genting will take some comfort in the following day's 164.8 km leg from Menara tower in Kuala Lumpur to Putrajaya. But even greater comfort will come the following day, where a 65 kilometre criterium in downtown KL marks the final stage of the 2005 Le Tour de Langkawi, and where traditional post-race celebrations begin.
Among those riders confirmed to ride so far, look out for 2003 champion Tom Danielson and JosÚ Azevedo (Discovery Channel), Tour de France podium finisher Joseba Beloki, J÷rg Jaksche and Dariusz Baranowski (Liberty Seguros), Giro d'Italia mountain man Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio (Ceramiche Panaria-Navigare), and Marlon Perez, Raffaela Illiano and Jose Rujano (Colombia-Selle Italia) to fight out the honours for the overall classification.
Cyclingnews will be there to provide full race coverage, including reports, photos, technical features... and any other tropical paraphernalia that titillates our taste buds!
2004 Freddy Gonzalez (Col) Colombia Selle-Italia 2003 Tom Danielson (USA) Saturn 2002 Hernan Dario Munoz (Col) Colombia-Selle 2001 Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita) Mapei-Quickstep 2000 Christopher Horner (Usa) Mercury 1999 Paolo Lanfranchi (Ita) Mapei-Quickstep 1998 Gabrielle Missaglia (Ita) Mapei-Bricobi 1997 Luca Scinto (Ita) MG-Technogym 1996 Damian Mcdonald (Aus) Giant-AIS Past winners by Mario Stiehl, www.world-of-cycling.com