Jelajah Malaysia s new organiser has implied the 2015 edition will be a sub-optimal affair due to time constraints and has confirmed discussions are taking place to rebrand Malaysia s oldest bike race next year.
Jelajah Malaysia (Tour of Malaysia) was created by Malaysia s National Cycling Federation in 1963, as preparation for the Tokyo Olympics the following year. The 1963 race started in the state of Kedah and finished in Singapore which, at the time, was part of the newly-created Malaysian Federation. It was not until 1971 that the second edition was held and it became a more consistent feature of the national cycling calendar in the decades leading to its sanctioning as a UCI AsiaTour event in 2007.
Malaysia s National Cycling Federation (MNCF) contracted out the race to organiser Ten Speed Events Sdn Berhad for three years from 2007-2009, throughout which Ten Speed made consecutive losses. When MNCF resumed management of the event in 2010, funding was propped up by local government but the race was still trimmed from eight stages to five. Finding a consistent spot in the AsiaTour calendar also proved problematic. The 2014 edition of Jelajah Malaysia almost didn t happen, evidently in part to government funding being withheld while the national cycling federation was being investigated for mismanaged funds. First scheduled for May, then September, the race eventually went ahead in the final month of 2014.
The race s future remained in serious doubt throughout 2015 until it was announced in October that private company Peloton Resources , run by former Malaysian pro cyclist Musairi Musa, would take up the challenge of continuing the Jelajah Malaysia legacy, with MNCF playing a supporting role. With the end of the season ominously near, there was precious-little time to pull together anything more than a serviceable event; a reality that was acknowledged by Musairi at this week s official launch in Kuala Lumpur.
Although we are running short of time, we are proceeding anyway with a rather long route over five phases, Musairi is quoted as saying in Malaysia s national news agency BERNAMA. This is what we could come up with for this year. What is important is that I want the 51st edition of Jelajah Malaysia to go on and ensure there is no break in the event.
In reality, the 502.6km route is significantly shorter than previous years and will leave only the slightest national footprint, as it bounces between Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, which lies roughly 40km to the south of the capital. The stage two Team Time Trial appears to be nothing but a placeholder it is arguably the preferred stage format of the cash- and time-starved organiser. Though skeptics might see this as the beginning of the end, it could also be viewed as pragmatic decision-making in a time of transition.
This view could also explain why Musairi is apparently keen to shift attention from 2015 to talk about bigger plans for the future, with the Peloton Resources CEO apparently telling reporters yesterday that we are rebranding Jelajah Malaysia. From next year, it will be known as the Tour of Malaysia and there will be further improvements in future.
When contacted by Cycling iQ to confirm the statements attributed to him by BERNAMA, he would not commit to an answer, instead writing that we still need time to discuss with our committee.
Thirteen of the 20 teams that have confirmed their participation will be UCI Continental squads, including three from Iran and one from Australia. Cycling iQ hopes to have sufficient material to publish a full race preview prior to the event.
Peloton Resources CEO Musairi Musa, pictured third from right, at the official launch of Jelajah Malaysia 2015 | Image: Jelajah Malaysia
JELAJAH MALAYSIA 2015 STAGES
Stage 1 | Kuala Lumpur Putrajaya, 176.1km
Wednesday, 09 December 2015
Stage 2 |Putrajaya Team Time Trial, 11.1km
Thursday, 10 December 2015
Stage 3 |Bandar Baru Bangi Putrajaya, 108.1km
Friday, 11 December 2015
Stage 4 |Kuala Lumpur Putrajaya, 120.7km
Saturday, 12 December 2015
Stage 5 |Kuala Lumpur Kuala Lumpur, 86.6km
Sunday, 13 December 2015