Is there a better host country for a bicycle race in Asia than Malaysia? Climate, terrain, food, cycling culture, organizational nous – all the boxes are ticked. The nation has already hosted three major professional cycling events this year, including the 2012 Asian Cycling Championships, with more UCI-accredited races reportedly on the way for 2013.
Le Tour de Langkawi is easily the biggest and most internationally-recognized of the four UCI-sanctioned road cycling events in Malaysia, but Jelajah Malaysia is the oldest. Following its conception in 1963, the week-long stage race has evolved into something of a benchmarking tool for aspiring local cyclists. Consistent with recent years, half of this year’s peloton will be Malaysian.
With the exception of Friday’s 115.6 kilometer fourth stage, which will get underway at 08:30, racing will commence at 10:00 local time every day. Jelajah Malaysia is organized by the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF).
Daytime temperatures will range anywhere between 30-35°C during the week ahead whilst, overnight, temperatures will drop into the low 20’s. Humidity will be typically high and rainfall has the potential to be very heavy when it occurs; though the wettest months should have passed.
With KOM and multiple intermediate sprint points on offer almost every day, team strategies within the overall KOM and points classifications should manifest in lively racing from start to finish. None of the six categorized climbs should present too great a challenge to fit riders, but duration might; half of all stages are 200 kilometers long. It will be interesting to compare the attrition rate of club and state teams compared to their UCI Continental peers.
Teams must have a minimum of four, and maximum of six, riders and four officials. Of the 117 starters, 58 riders are registered with the Malaysian Cycling Federation, whilst 96 hail from Asia.
None of the past three general classification winners will be on the start line at Stadium Merdeka tomorrow. Adelaide’s Timothy Roe (2009) is now a WorldTour rider with the BMC Racing Team, RTS Racing’s David McCann (2010) is recovering from an almost-severed thumb at Tour de Korea and Mehdi Sohrabi (2011) has also been bumped up into the WorldTour with Lotto-Belisol*.
*Sohrabi’s previous team, Iran’s Tabriz Petrochemical Team, is a late withdrawal; TPT has also missed Tour de Korea and Tour de Filipinas in the last month. According to a statement made by Jelajah Malaysia, the team could not attend “due to financial difficulties.”
Five jerseys will be awarded at the conclusion of each stage:
Leader of General Classification – Yellow
Leader of Points Classification – Green
Leader of King of the Mountains (KOM) Classification – Red
Leader of best Aisan Rider classification – Blue
Leader of Young Rider Classification – White
Almost half of this year’s overall purse of MYR159,117 (USD52,000) will be distributed to the top 20 place-getters of each stage. Here’s the breakdown:
Overall winner (individual) = MYR15,024 (USD4,900)
Overall team = MYR3,000 (USD980)
Overall team (Asian) = MYR500 (USD160)
Overall KOM = MYR500 (USD160)
Overall Points = MYR500 (USD160
Overall Malaysian Rider = MYR500 (USD160)
Stage winner = MYR5,008 (USD1,630)
The official Jelajah Malaysia website is straight-forward, current, and looks to be constructed by the same crew that was responsible for Tour of Borneo. English is the official language for communicating stage results, reports and updates.
In addition to the website, Jelajah Malaysia is also on Facebook but last year’s Twitter account still lies idle. The race will be broadcast nationally by Astro Arena; no live streams are yet evident.
STAGES AND PROFILES
Stage 1 | Stadium Merdeka – Bandar Baru Kampar 161.5km
Tuesday, 08 May 2012
Stage 2 | Bandar Baru Kampar – Kulim, Kedah 201.8km
Wednesday, 09 May 2012
Stage 3 | Kulim, Kedah – Felda Chuping Perlis 168.8km
Thursday, 10 May 2012
Stage 4 | Kanga, Perlis – Sungai Petani 115.6km
Friday, 11 May 2012
Stage 5 | Sungai Petani – Ipoh 194.9km
Saturday, 12 May 2012
Stage 6 | Ipoh – Dataran Merdaka, Kuala Lumpur 199.5km
Sunday, 13 May 2012