Le Tour de Langkawi 2009 - Bbox Bouygues Telecom
Japan's Yukiya Arashiro becomes a key rider in the Bbox French outfits
efforts in Malaysia... Swiss Climber " Johann Tschopp " natural captain", Team
Japanese star Arashiro to begin with Bbox Bouygues
One of the last signing coups towards the end of the transfer window prior to
the Pro Tour teams’ rosters were to be finalized for the 2009 season was the
recruitment of Japanese Yukiya Arashiro by the newly named Bbox-Bouygues Telecom
French outfit. The 24 years old rider from Okinawa seduced team manager
Jean-René Bernaudeau by his continuous attacks. He also proved to be efficient
sometimes as he won stage 2 in the 2.1 Tour du Limousin, a race where he
finished 3rd overall in 2006.
Consistency on French soil has earned him a pro contract he dreamed of when
he moved to Normandy in 2004 riding for small club EC Aumale after completing
his studies and giving up his aims of becoming a professional handball player.
Arashiro’s attacks were also noticed by the staff of Bouygues Telecom at Le
Tour de Langkawi, in which they competed in the past two years. Arashiro
proved to be a decent sprinter as he came 7th in stage 4 from Gua Musang to Kota
Bahru in 2007.
“We have different approaches of the sport of cycling and we are very
interested to discover his”, Bernaudeau explained. The cycling coach from Vendée
was known for giving their chance to French coloured riders from the Caribbean
island of Guadeloupe (Rony Martias and Yohann Gène) and Saïd Haddou who is the
first pro cyclist coming from the third generation of Algerian immigrants in
For the first time, an Asian integrates a French team. Bernaudeau had looked
at such an opportunity since the first time he sent his amateur team Vendée U to
Malaysia for Le Tour de Langkawi back in 1996 for the inaugural edition. Bbox-Bouygues
Telecom assistant directeur sportif Philippe Mauduit has a long personal history
of contribution to Asian cycling. He has worked as DS for Japanese team Nippo-Hodo
and he organized a Japanese team to learn the basics of cycling and study
language at the University of Poitiers from 1998 to 2001. From 2002 to 2004, he
coached the national women's team of China.
“In China, cycling could get a huge with a rapid boost as long as the
government is interested, but in Japan the development of the sport is
limited by the density of the traffic on the roads”, Mauduit explained. “The
federation isn’t very proactive om response to some cycling enthusiasts who try
their best to give Japanese riders exposure in Europe and other Asian
Akira Asada is the most notable of them. Arashiro hails from his Meitan-GDR
team. “It will be strange to see Yukiya riding Le Tour de Langkawi with another
team because he has always been with us previously”, Asada said. “I’m also
looking forward to be at the same races as him in France. I hope that our new
rivalry will help each other to get better. I wish him the best luck anyway.”
Asada’s dream of taking a Japanese rider to a Pro Tour outfit has now become
concrete and it shows that doors are open in Europe for riders from other Asian
countries as well as long as they build solid foundations and produce results
“I hope to win races for Bbox-Bouygues Telecom, including a stage at the Tour
de France”, Arashiro stated. “I also want to
grab the Japanese national title again.” Following the good old habits of the
Meitan-GDR team, Arashiro has headed off to Thailand in January to gear up for
Le Tour de Langkawi.
“The hot weather and the climbs are similar to the conditions I’ll face in
Malaysia”, he said. “I went to France in December for the training camp of Bbox-Bouygues
Telecom. I had the impression the team is a real family. It’s also very open in
terms of tactics. There’s no designated captain. Any team member is likely to
try and win, and to get a chance to participate to the Tour de France. At
Le Tour de Langkawi, I’ll first do my best to gain the confidence of my
team-mates, I’ll also try and win stages and the GC.”
Aim to Win - Johann Tschopp, Road Captain
“We’ll go to Le Tour de Langkawi with the aim of winning GC”, Mauduit confirmed.
“Johann Tschopp will be our natural captain. Considering his weight-power ratio,
the climb of Genting Highlands will suit him more that Fraser’s Hill last year.
” The Swiss climber was on his way to contest the stage win up to Fraser’s
Hill in 2008 but he lost all his hopes due to a flat tyre with 2-km to go. “Our
concern is the weather conditions that our European riders have had to face
recently”, Mauduit mentioned. “The cold and the snow have affected the training
of cyclists like Tschopp.” Should the Europeans reach Malaysia with a bit of a
lack of form compared to their initial plans, Bbox-Bouygues Telecom will be able
to count on its super motivated Asian recruit.
Le Tour de Langkawi Squad:
Yukiya Arashiro (Jap)
Giovanni Bernaudeau (Fra)
Yohann Gène (Fra)
Arnaud Labbe (Fra)
Guillaume Le Floc’h (Fra)
Johann Tschopp (Swi)
Directeur sportif: Philippe Mauduit.
The Le Tour de Langkawi 2009 will feature 20 teams from
February 9 to 15, starting in Putrajaya, the
home of Malaysian government, and finishing in the country’s capital Kuala
Lumpur with the traditional criterium at Dataran Merdeka.
The Tour is organized by the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF)
with the support of the Malaysian Government via the Ministry of Youth and
Sports and sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and Asian
Cycling Confederation (ACC).
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