Thursday February 21, 2013
Monsalve confident he can win the LTdL overall title again
By SHAMSHUL FITRI
LANGKAWI: Returning with a new team for Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) this year, 2011 winner Yonnatha Monsalve believes he can emerge as the overall winner again.
The Venezuelan will be the sole hopeful for his team Vini Fantini to win the overall classification title as he has taken the role of team leader in the race.
Monsalve had to resort to being just a lieutenant to Jose Serpa in the Androni Giocattoli team when Serpa won his second overall title in LTdL. But Monsalve penned a move to Vini Fantini on a two-year contract in October last year to aim for a bigger role.
ďI think Iím in a good shape for the race and I can say that Iím 90% ready to challenge for the overall title,Ē said the 23-year-old Monsalve.
The race, which will start today with a 162.7km stage from Kangar to Kulim will not present climbers like Monsalve an early chance to show their hands as eight out of 10 stages are sprint stages.
Only the climb up Cameron Highlands (Stage 3) and Genting Highlands (Stage 5) will likely decide the overall title.
But with five ProTour teams in the fray this year compared to two last year, the battle for the overall title will be wide open.
Although ProTour teams like Blanco, Astana, Garmin-Sharp, Orica-Green Edge and Omega Pharma-QuickStep are eyeing the sprints in the race, it will be hard to dictate the race at the front this time.
Threat for the overall classification could come from other pro continental teams and lesser known continental teams.
Pro continental outfit Europcar have Tour de France mountain stage winner Pierre Rolland in their ranks and although it is still early in the season, the Frenchman should not be discounted for the overall title.
ďI love the stage in Genting Ė itís beautiful. Iím back here again and that means I like it here very much,Ē said Rolland.
Rolland made his first appearance in the LTdL in 2011 and finished 12th overall and 1:48 behind Monsalve.
The Frenchman opted to spend his time racing in warmer climes here than competing in Europe as he is looking forward to a better showing this season.
ďI will take it stage by stage and if by the end of the Cameron (Highlands) stage Iím in good spot for the overall classification, then maybe I will try my luck in Genting (Highlands),Ē said Rolland, who won the best young rider award in the Tour de France in 2011.