Thursday February 21, 2013
Five ProTour teams to spice up Tour de Langkawi this year
LANGKAWI: The battle for stage wins in Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) this year will be taken up to a new level with the arrival of five ProTour teams who are hungry for wins at the start of the season.
Team Blanco, formerly known as Rabobank, have Theo Bos as their leader in the sprints. Bos already had two podium finishes this year at the Volta ao Algarve in Portugal last week. He finished third in the first stage and won the second stage.
Astana, meanwhile, will be pinning their hope on LTdL stage win record holder Andrea Guardini, who has 11 wins to his name. But the Italian sprint prodigy has yet to win a stage in Astana colours this year.
He finished third in one stage of the Tour of Qatar earlier this month behind winner Mark Cavendish.
“The fight for stage wins will be very tough this year. I think Blanco and Astana will try very hard to control the race for sprints. I’m just eager to get my first win for Astana,” said Guardini.
Bos will be eager to perfect his sprint train ahead of his bigger objective if the season and that is possibly the Giro d’Italia.
The Dutchman is testing his own sprint train as the team also have another sprinter, Mark Renshaw, who has a different programme this year.
Last season, both sprinters had limited chances to go all out for wins as sometimes one of them had to work for the other.
Bos will have the services of Jetse Bol, Tom Leezer, Jos Van Emden and winner of 10 stages in LTdL, Graeme Brown in the sprints.
Marc Goos, meanwhile, will have a free rein in the climbing stages.
“We are looking at the sprints here and that is our main objective. Brown will be the main leadout man for me so he won’t be looking to level with Guardini,” said Bos in jest, as Brown was the former record holder for stage wins with 10 victories in the LTdL before Guardini beat it last year.
Meanwhile, local lad Mohd Harrif Salleh of the Terengganu Cycling Team, said he will have his work cut out to win stages in the races this year with so many big names in the fray.
“But I will try my best to get good results in all the stages. That doesn’t mean that I won’t try anything ... but it will be hard,” said Harrif, who finished third in one stage last year.