2013 Jelajah Malaysia preview |

As the 100th edition of Le Tour sucks up most of the available column inches for the next month, many smaller UCI races will have an even harder time than usual to claw their way onto the news radar. For Jelajah Malaysia, a local institution now in its 50th year, a change in scheduling could well be a benefit.

BACKGROUNDER
Organized by the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF), 2013 marks the Golden Jubileee of Jelajah Malaysia. Malaysia s oldest stage race (first held in 1963) was not automatically incorporated into the UCI AsiaTour until the second season (2006/07) and it has been shuffled from January to May and in between since; though late April has become the preferred slot. This year, due to the unavoidable and difficult to anticipate announcement of Malaysia s 13th General Elections from 20 April 05 May, Jelajah Malaysia was postponed until late June. [Note: Tour of Borneo was also affected, being re-scheduled to 18-22 August]. An overlap with the Tour de France (29.06 21.07.2013) is something most races want to avoid but, in this instance, Jelajah Malaysia may receive more attention thanks to a cyclical uptick in interest caused by the world s biggest professional bike race.

No Malaysian cyclist has worn and retained the yellow jersey since Suhardi Hassan took overall victory in 2004, though Amir Mustafa Rusli (who, though in his third season with Drapac Cycling, was provisionally listed to start this year s Jelajah Malaysia for Polis Diraja Malaysia club team, but didn t make the final cut), came close with a third place overall in 2010; 1 01 behind Ireland s David McCann. McCann this week flies into Kuala Lumpur as DS for Azerbaijan s Team Baku Cycling Project. Last year s winner Yusuf Abrekov, now riding for Uzbek Continental squad Team Velo Reality , is not taking part in this year s race.

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2012 Jelajah Malaysia podium: 3rd overall, Yasuharu Nakajima (Aisan Racing Team); Yellow jersey, Yusup Abrekov (Uzbekistan Suren); Runner-up overall, Jai Crawford (RTS Racing Team); KOM jersey, Dadi Suryadi (Putra Perjuangan); Points jersey, Adiq Husainie Othman (Malaysia Development Team).

WEATHER
Maximum temperatures are forecast within a stable 33-35 C range during the week ahead whilst, overnight, temperatures will drop into the low 20?s. At this time of year, rainfall should be infrequent and humidity should not cause problems for a group of fit athletes. The lingering haze that threatened to disrupt the race has so far not forced any changes.

DIFFICULTY
Three out of five stages are either near, or in excess of, 200 kilometres distance, but the organizer has had to grasp at straws when searching for topographical touch points to categorise; the event s fifth and final KOM, featured in the fifth and final stage, maxes out at a scant 212m. While the KOM jersey may not be truly representative of the best climber in the race, 13 Sprint points scattered over the race s 856.1 kilometres should see a classy rider in Blue come Sunday.

Though on paper not a challenging parcours, the ability array created by the mix of Continental, club, regional and national squads could, like last year, see a reasonable portion of the peloton shelled in the first half of the race. Keep an eye out for shrinking start lists.

TEAMS BREAKDOWN
Teams must have a minimum of four, and maximum of six, riders and four officials. Of the 116 starters, 46 riders are registered with the Malaysian Cycling Federation, whilst 102 come from federations attached to the Asian Cycling Confederation (ACC). 64% of non-ACC zone riders come from Australia.

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FINAL START LIST HERE

LEADER S JERSEYS
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 best Malaysian Rider Classification White

PRIZE MONEY
This year s overall purse of MYR126,585 (~USD40,000) is a reduction of approximately 20% from the 2012 edition. MYR77,415 (~USD24,500) will be distributed across the five stages to various classification place-getters, whilst MYR49,170 (~USD15,500) will be presented to overall classification winners after the final stage. Here s the breakdown:

Overall winner (individual) = MYR14,706 (USD4,600) Overall team = MYR3,000 (USD930) Overall team (Asian) = MYR500 (USD155) Overall team (Malaysian) = MYR500 (USD155) Overall KOM = MYR500 (USD155) Overall Points = MYR500 (USD155) Overall Malaysian Rider = MYR500 (USD155)

Stage winner = MYR4,902 (USD1,530)

MEDIA OUTREACH
Like last year, the official Jelajah Malaysia website is straight-forward, current, and is constructed by the same crew 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 and the Twitter account is already showing more signs of pre-race activity than the pitiful output since coming to life in March 2011. Astro Arena is the national broadcaster responsible for televised content locally.

Meanwhile, Cycling iQ will be enlisting the talented Shamshul Fitri and Mokhriz Aziz for words and images, respectively, to create daily race reports on this site. We re on the race s email list, so hopefully timing officials will send out stage results in a, er, timely fashion, too.

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For those that are interested, the full 2013 JELAJAH MALAYSIA RACE MANUAL (PDF, 15.7Mb) can be downloaded here.

STAGES AND PROFILES

Stage 1 | Kompleks Sukan Negara Bukit Jalil Rembau, 187.7km
Wednesday, 26 June 2013 (starts 11:00 local time)

Stage 2 | Rembau Batu Pahat, 197.6km
Thursday, 27 June 2013 (starts 10:00 local time)

Stage 3 | Batu Pahat Pontian, 94.7km
Friday, 28 June 2013 (starts 09:00 local time)

Stage 4 | Angsana JB Mall Melaka, 206.3km
Saturday, 29 June 2013 (starts 10:00 local time)

Stage 5 | Melaka Putrajaya, 169.8km
Sunday, 30 June 2013 (starts 10:00 local time)

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