Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) has undeniably established itself as the stage where the stars of the future are unearthed as it has been proven since the race’s inception in 1996.
A host of global stars began establishing themselves at LTdL and with creditable results achieved in Asia’s biggest race, the young talents previously unknown began to make their mark en route to glorious careers after being noticed by the world’s top professional teams.
Alessandro Petacchi, Floyd Landis, Chris Horner, Levi Leipheimer, Julio Alberto Perez Cuapio, Antonio Cruz, Fred Rodriguez, Rigoberto Uran, Rinaldo Nocentini and Tom Danielson are among those who launched their careers in LTdL before moving on to bigger things on the world stage, even defining the pro cycling landscape of their generation.
Moreover, LTdL in its early years often saw the participation of big name riders who were present to provide guidance to the younger riders signed by their World Tour teams.
In fact, in 2005, one of the world’s top sprinters now, Mark Cavendish made his debut in as an elite rider in LTdL, riding as a 19-year old for the Britain that year.
It is thus not surprising that despite the emergence of many new international races across Asia, LTdL is still a relevant topic discussed among riders who have competed in the 23-year old race.
It was always ideal that LTdL, traditionally held as an early season race on the International Cycling Union (UCI) calendar, also played its part as a warm-up for top teams before heading to the bigger races in Europe.
When the curtain opens for LTdL with Stage 1 from Kangar to Kulim, covering 154 kilometres on Sunday, another new star may emerge to stamp his mark here, before moving on to global stardom in the coming years.
Apart from serving up a tough stage race format run under the scorching heat, the conditions sometimes descend into a chaotic thunderstorm providing the slipperiest of challenges, giving the peloton a true test of skill to bring out their true talents.
In less than 24 hours, Stage 1 will be open for viewing and with the race entourage currently camped in Alor Star, the riders were seen still undergoing some last minute training rides after moving here from the team presentation in Langkawi on Friday night.
Team officials and the technical team have also detailed the running of the race in a meeting also attended by the president commissaire appointed by the UCI, John McDonald and race director Graham Jones at the official hotel for the LTdL secretariat on Saturday.
For local fans, the chance to see a world class event in front of their own eyes should not be missed, while predicting themselves whether any of the 132 riders on the startline tomorrow could someday be crowned a world champion.
The UCI 2.HC status race, covering an overall distance of 1,341.2 km in eight states in Peninsula Malaysia, will see 22 teams competing for honours.
LTdL 2018 is organised by Ciclista Sports with the full support of the Sports Ministry.