Having recently concluded hosting of the 2012 Asian Cycling Championships, Malaysia is poised to deliver its 17th Tour de Langkawi. The 2012 edition of this 2.HC Asia Tour stage race brings back the Individual Time Trial for the first time since 2006 and features the “people’s favourite” Genting Highlands climb.
One of only two Hors Categorie stage races on the Asia Tour (China’s ‘Tour of Qinghai Lake’ in July being the other), Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) is a ten day west-to-east traverse of Peninsular Malaysia, covering 1,413.3km from 24 February – 04 March. The race’s management committee hasn’t been shy about their intent to convert LTDL into a WorldTour event – indeed the committee’s Chairman, Dato’ Mohid Mohamed, effectively used his introductory message to lobby the UCI:
“Le Tour de Langkawi in 2012 will be one that showcases the race’s readiness to become part of the UCI World Tour series. With a proven track record, the race is ready to move further forward. We will be preparing for a new chapter by welcoming more top tier UCI Pro Teams, reinstating this race as the foremost cycling event in Asia.”
An experienced media friend (who shall remain anonymous) presented me with an alternative appraisal, describing Tour de Langkawi as “a super friendly event but as a bike race, it’s kind of a joke, and it’s way too long. However, if you have nothing else to do, it’s fun.” Sold! [Cycling iQ will be flying into Malaysia tomorrow, though some riders (like ‘Vino’) have already arrived, days ahead of the start on Friday.]
In terms of its positioning on the calendar LTdL occupies the same moment in time as a bevy of decades-old European races, such as Omloop Het Nieuwsblad (1.HC, 25 Feb), Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne (1.1, 26 Feb) and Driedaagse van West-Vlaanderen (2.1, 02-04 Mar), but manages to slip between events on the other Continental Circuit calendars.
Teams arriving into Malaysia from the recent Tours of Qatar and Oman – having enjoyed opulence necessitating six-star classification – will return to a more business-like standard of accommodation at the Concorde Hotel in Shah Alam, but the upside is a more diverse parcours. 22 teams, with six riders apiece, will be competing for a total prize purse of MYR925,250 (USD306,300).
Four jerseys will be awarded at the conclusion of each stage:
Leader of General Classification – Yellow
Leader of Points Classification – Blue
Leader of King of the Mountains (KOM) Classification – Red
Leader of Best Asian Rider Classification – White
Must have a minimum of four, and maximum of six, riders and four officials. Of the 132 riders, 59 are from Asian nations, 32 are from European nations, 17 from The Americas, 6 from Africa and 18 from Oceania.
STAGES AND PROFILES
Stage 1 | Putrajaya Individual Time Trial* 20.3km
Friday, 24 February 2012
*Aero bars are permitted during the ITT in accordance with article 1.3.023 in the UCI regulations.
Stage 2 | Putrajaya – Melaka, 151.0km
Saturday, 25 February 2012
Stage 3 | Melaka – Parit Sulong, 187.6km
Sunday, 26 February 2012
Stage 4 | Batu Pahat – Muar, 169.4km
Monday, 27 February 2012
Stage 5 | Ayer Keroh – Pandan Indah, Ampang, 190.0km
Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Stage 6 | Proton, Shah Alam – Genting Highlands*, 108.0km
Wednesday, 29 February 2012
*25-30km climb (depending on “official start point” to 1,679m above sea level
Stage 7 | Bentong – Kuantan, 205.8km
Thursday, 1 March 2012
Stage 8 | Pekan – Cukai, 100.8km
Friday, 2 March 2012
Stage 9 | Kemasik – Kuala Terengganu, 165.7km
Saturday, 3 March 2012
Stage 10 | Tasik Kenyir – Kuala Terengganu Loop, 116.9km
Sunday, 4 March 2012