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Tour de Langkawi to start
 
By Anita van Crey
Date: 2/5/2004
Tour de Langkawi to start
 
“We are with seven riders here in Langkawi. “ Dennis van Uden of the Bert Story-Piels team (the Netherlands) tells. “Me, Arne Kornegoor, Jasper Lenferink, Coen Loos, Reinier Honig, Jarko van der Stelt and Germ van der Burgt. We came here four days ahead and stayed on the island Phenang. Thats a small island where the first stage will be held. From there we move on to Malaysia itself for the other stages. For the time we do train here. It is mostly getting used to the change in climate compared to backhome. It is a subtropical 30-35 degrees Centigrade and very very humid, so thats a adapting-problems big time.”

“Our second day here we trained twice a day. It again was really hot and we got a little sunburned as well. The surroundings, the views here are very beautiful, beaches with palmtrees and the brightest bluest sea. Very cool. We did do some formal racethings like registration and that sort of stuff. For the rest it now is a bit like vacation, relaxed training and a bit getting used to the country. Friday the first stage, over a hilly course, I am curious.”

This year's Telekom Malaysia Le Tour de Langkawi , Asia's leading cycling event, promises to be more exciting as against its previous editions. It has various challenges in store for riders gunning for the Yellow Jersey, the piece which would be worn by the overall winner in the competition. The routes lined up by organisers First Cartel (M) Sdn Bhd would offer each rider an even chance of winning instead of being monopolised by a small group of cyclists like in the past LTdLs. First Cartel said this year's route included various terrains like flat stretches for fast rides, moderate climbs and arduous steep hill climbs apart from the time-trials which needed each rider to be in top form in order to win the race.The 2004 LTdL would have the individual time-trial competition right in the middle of the tour unlike previous editions where the event was held at the beginning of the competition.

Starterslist

Lampre (LAM)
Manager: Maurizio Piovani
1 Pagliarini,Luciano BRA
2 Belli,Wladimir ITA
3 Carrara,Matteo ITA
4 Pinotti,Marco ITA
5 Cortinovis,Alessandr ITA
6 Barbero,Sergio ITA
7 Scotto D'Abusco,Mich ITA

Chocolade Jacques-Wincor Nixdo (CHO)
Manager: Johan Capiot
11 Koerts,Jans NED
12 Bruylandts,Dave BEL
14 Ardila,Mauricio COL
15 Aranaga,Andoni ESP
16 Piatek,Zbigniew POL
17 Van Velzen,Jan NED
18 Van De Walle,Jurgen BEL

Colombia Selle-Italia (CLM)
Manager: Gianni Savio
21 Gonzalez,Freddy COL
22 Marin,Ruber COL
23 Mesa Estapa,Huberlin COL
24 Perez,Marlon COL
25 Rujano,Jose VEN
26 Van Hout,Russel AUS
27 Wilson,Trent AUS

De-Nardi (DEN)
Manager: Oscar Pellicioli
31 Gasparre,Graziano ITA
32 Gobbi,Michele ITA
33 Grigoli,Enrico ITA
34 Miorin,Devis ITA
35 Nuritdinov,Rafael UZB
36 Rizzi,Antonio ITA
37 Wegelius,Charles GBR

Palmans-Collstrop (PAL)
Manager: Luc Landuyt
41 Hunt,Jeremy GBR
42 Van De Wouwer,Kurt BEL
43 Gabriel,Frederic FRA
44 Wuyts,Peter BEL
45 Van Haecke,Michel BEL
46 Vanderaerden,Gert BEL
47 Day,Ben AUS

Ceramiche Panaria-Margres (PAN)
Manager: Roberto Reverberi
51 Baliani,Fortunato ITA
52 Brown,Graeme AUS
53 Borrajo,Alejandro Al ARG
54 Matveiev,Sergiy UKR
55 Gilioli,Fabio ITA
56 Bongiorno,Ruben Guil ARG
57 Lancaster,Brett AUS

Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave (FPF)
Manager: Stefano Giuliani
61 Quaranta,Ivan ITA
62 Manzoni,Mario ITA
63 Serina,Corrado ITA
64 Sulpizi,Giulini ITA
65 Gualdi,Domenico ITA
66 Cappe,Matteo ITA
67 Laverde Jimenez,Luis COL

Relax Bodysol (REB)
Manager: Jesus Suarez Cuevas
71 Florencio Cabre,Javi ESP
72 Blanco Gil,Santiago ESP
73 Duenas Nevado,Moises ESP
74 Van Summeren,Johan BEL
75 Guerra Garcia,Hector ESP
76 Burgos Rojo,Nacor ESP
77 Laguna,Garcia Oscar ESP

Team Barloworld (TBA)
Manager: Alberto Elli
81 George,David RSA*
82 Degano,Enrico ITA
83 Sullivan,Sean AUS
84 Cox,Ryan RSA
85 Green,Jock RSA
86 Perry,James RSA
87 Kannemeyer,Tiaan RSA

Health Net Pro, Presented By M ()
Manager: Jeff Corbett
101 Fraser,Gordon CAN
102 Henderson,Gregory NZL
103 Jones,Brice USA
104 Pate,Danny USA
105 Lieswyn,John USA
106 Moninger,Scott USA
107 Sayers,Michael USA

Bert Story-Piels (BSP)
Manager: Jan Van Dam
111 Van Der Burg,Germ NED
112 Van Uden,Dennis NED
113 Loos,Coen NED
114 Honig,Reinier NED
115 Lenferink,Jasper NED
116 Van Der Stelt,Jarko NED
117 Kornegoor,Arne NED

Indonesia (INA)
Manager: Benny Hendarto
121 Tonton,Susanto INA
122 Sama'I,Sama'I INA
123 Sulistiyono,Sulistiy INA
124 Matnur,Matnur INA
125 Wibowo,Adi INA
126 Setyobudi,Wawan INA

Japan (JPN)
Manager: Akira Asada
131 Abe,Yoshiyuki JPN
132 Manabe,Kazuyuki JPN
133 Fukushima,Shinichi JPN*
134 Okazaki,Kazuya JPN
135 Iijima,Makoto JPN
136 Kano,Tomoya JPN
137 Tashiro,Yasutaka JPN

Canada (CAN)
Manager: Jacky Hardy
141 Green,Roland CAN
142 Wohlberg,Eric CAN
143 Perras,Dominique CAN*
144 Dionne,Charles CAN
145 Lange,Cory CAN
146 Wedge,Peter CAN
147 Lavallee,Alexandre CAN

Iran (IRI)
Manager: Farhad Yavarian
151 Maleki,Hassan IRI
152 Kazemi,Ahad IRI
153 Mizbani,Ghader IRI
154 Saeidi,Tanha Abbas IRI
155 Rajabloo,Mohammad IRI
156 Zargari,Amir IRI
157 Chehrzad,Saeid IRI

China (CHN)
Manager: Li Nianxi
161 Wang,Guozhang CHN
162 Luo,Jianshi CHN
163 Zheng,Xiaohai CHN
164 Li,Fuyu CHN
165 Zhu,Yongbiao CHN
166 Shao,Xiaojun CHN
167 Jiang,Xueli CHN

Malaysia (MAS)
Manager: Amrun Misnoh
171 Shahrulneeza,Razali MAS
172 Mohd Mahazir,Hamad MAS
173 Musairi,Musa MAS
174 Mohd. Najmee,Abd Gha MAS
175 Mohd Sazlee,Ismail MAS
176 Nor Affendy,Rosli MAS
177 Mohd Sayuti,Mohd Zah MAS

South Africa (RSA)
Manager: Tony Harding
181 Odenaal,Jaco RSA
182 McLeod,Ian RSA
183 Impey,Daryl RSA
184 Duplessis,Reinhardt RSA
185 White,Nicholas RSA
186 Maartens,Jeremy RSA
187 McDonald,Neil RSA

Ireland (IRL)
Manager: Frank Campbell
191 McCann,David IRL
192 O'Loughlin,David IRL
193 Deignan,Philip IRL
194 Lynch,Denis IRL
195 Griffin,Paul IRL
196 Moriarty,Eugene IRL
197 Barry,Tim IRL

Pagcor-Casino (PHI)
Manager: Ric Rodriguez
201 Espiritu,Victor PHI
202 Tanguilig,Rhyan PHI
203 Reynante,Lloyd Lucie PHI
204 Ramos,Merculio PHI
205 Catalan,Alfie PHI
206 Primero,Albert PHI
207 Gorantes,Ronald PHI

The Malyasian national team have finally identified their sprinters and hill climbers for the Tour of Langkawi, which starts tomorrow. National coach Ng Joo Ngan has picked Shahrulneeza Razali, Wan Najmi Wan Ahmad, Suhardi Hassan and Nor Effandy Rosli to tackle the daunting climbs. “The other three riders – Sayuti Zahid, Mohd Mahazir Hamad and Musairi Musa – will be used mostly for flat roads,” said Joo Ngan yesterday. Teams with natural hill climbers should have a clear advantage in the Tour this year. Three of the 10 stages of the Tour are hilly routes – the traditional Kuala Lumpur-Genting Highlands (Stage 9); Ipoh-Tanah Rata (Stage 2) and Tapah-Raub (Stage 3). “The four riders are the best hill climbers we have in the national team. Of course, they will have a tough time because other teams will come with more experienced riders. For example Indonesia have Tonton Susanto,” said Joo Ngan.

In the early stages of training last month, it was difficult for Joo Ngan to pick the hill climbers because all the riders, except for Suhardi, are sprinters. “The riders have come a long way since we started training. They have shown marked improvements in the past one month,” said Joo Ngan. The national team, who are competing in the Asian category against the likes of China, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines and defending champions Iran, have one advantage though – the current hot weather. “ Riders from the Philippines and Indonesia won’t have a problem with the weather but the other three teams – China, Japan and Iran – will find it hard acclimatising with the hot and humid conditions,” said Joo Ngan. Malaysia, who finished fourth in the five-team Asian category and 15th out of the 16 teams overall last year, have set themselves a lofty second placing target in the Asian event this time. Their best achievement was in 1999 when they emerged champions in the Asian category

The stages
Stage 1, Bayan Baru, Pulau Pinang – Taiping
Friday, 6 Feb 2004, 112 km
Route Summary:
Bayan Baru makes its debut appearance as host venue where riders start their campaign at the Penang International Sports Arena (PISA), heading to Taiping in Perak. Expect an intense race in this relatively short stage and flat journey. As the peloton reach the finish town, they will have to complete a two-lap race around Taiping before ending the day's challenge at Jalan Kota.

Stage 2, Ipoh - Tanah Rata
Saturday, 7 Feb 2004, 151.6 km
Route Summary:
The first test for riders where climbers come to the fore. This first mountain stage from Ipoh to Tanah Rata will take riders to some interesting towns namely Pusing, Batu Gajah, Mambang DiAwan, Ayer Kuning, Tapah and Ringlet. It's too early to arrive to any conclusion, but the gentle and long climb to Tanah Rata will surely give an indication as to who might eventually arrive in Kuala Lumpur in Yellow. Hong Kong rider Wong Kam Po made history when he won the stage in Cameron Highlands in 2000. Can Asian riders do it again this time around?

Stage 3, Tapah – Raub
Sunday, 8 Feb 2004, 171.2 km
Route Summary:
Tapah has been a regular town where riders start off their third day campaign on another hilly route, this time around a rapid climb up to Fraser's Gap. The stage could well again split the peloton where climbers are set to rule the day. They will try hard to gain as much time as possible in this stage of 20km of climb and rapid descent and another 10km of flat racing before finishing in the town of Raub in Pahang.

Stage 4, Hulu Kelang – Tampin
Monday, 9 February 2004, 147.8 km
Route Summary:
Climbers take a backseat while sprinters will try to make up for their losses. Starting off at Zoo Negara in Hulu Kelang, the peloton head for Tampin in this flat journey of 147.8km. The stage takes riders through Cheras, Kajang, Semenyih, Mantin, Seremban, Kuala Pilah, and Johor before finishing in Tampin. Watch out for an explosive finish sprint!

Stage 5, Melaka – Melaka, Individual Time Trial
Tuesday, 10 February 2004, 18 km
Route Summary:
For the first time, the race against the clock is held midway during the race to give riders who are good in time trial races to gain some time. After missing the 2003 race, Melaka is back on the map, hosting the 18km time trial race which starts and finishes at Mahkota Parade in Bandar Hilir. The stage in this historical town could see some shake up and changes in the general classification.

Stage 6, Muar - Johor Bahru
Wednesday, 11 February 2004, 175.2 km
Route Summary:
The race is expected to turn aggressive where riders who have lost time in yesterday's time trial will try to recover and gain back some time in this longest stage from Muar to Johor Bahru. Expect some intense action and hot rivalry on the road with another mass sprint finish on the cards!

Stage 7, Pontian – Melaka
Thursday, 12 February 2004, 166.7 km
Route Summary:
After a short transfer, riders prepare themselves for another long stage from this new host venue of Pontian to Melaka. It will indeed be a tough ride as riders will have to face a strong headwind along the way. Teamwork is the key word and riders with the strongest determination, team and power will rule the day.

Stage 8, Port Dickson - Shah Alam
Friday, 13 February 2004, 96.4 km
Route Summary:
The race winds its way back towards Kuala Lumpur and the short ride of 96.4km should again turn the race into an aggressive and furious affair. This stage will take riders through Lukut, Sepang F1 Circuit, Dengkil, and Puchong before finishing at Dataran Shah Alam. It will be the last chance for sprinters to shine and hog the limelight as the top riders prepare themselves for the hard climb in Genting the next day.

Stage 9, Kuala Lumpur - Genting Highlands
Saturday, 14 February 2004, 131.6 km
Route Summary:
The backbreaking climb up to Genting Highlands is expected to see another dramatic battle for the Tour's big names. For climbers and the favourites, the last 25 km of the route - a brutal ascent to the spectacular finish venue at First World Hotel - will be the most crucial battleground. For non climbers and sprinters, it will be a hard day on the saddle as they try to complete the journey in the stipulated time.

Stage 10, Kuala Lumpur Criterium - Dataran Merdeka
Sunday, 15 February 2004, 80.4 km
Route Summary:
Once again, the traditional final day race at the Dataran Merdeka will provide sprinters with the last chance to be on the podium. Fans are expected to turn up in droves to cheer on the riders in this 12-lap race which will see the peloton passing some of Kuala Lumpur's famous landmarks including the Kuala Lumpur Twin Towers.

Malaysia itself
Malaysia's position in the equatorial zone guarantees a classic tropical climate with relative humidity levels usually around 90%. Weather is fairly hot and humid all year round (with the exception of the cooler climes of the central highlands) averaging 30ΊC in the daytime, with short intense showers almost daily. Malaysia's climate is dominated by the effect of two monsoons or "rainy seasons", which affect different parts of Malaysia to varying degrees.

Malaysia is a multicultural society, with Malays, Chinese and Indians living side by side. The Malays are the largest community. They are Muslims, speak Bahasa and are largely responsible for the political fortunes of the country. The Chinese comprise about a third of the population. They are Buddhists and Taoists, speak Hokkein, Hakka and Cantonese, and are dominant in the business community. The Indians account for about 10% of the population. They are mainly Hindu Tamils from southern India, they speak Tamil, Malayalam, and some Hindi, and live mainly in the larger towns on the west coast of the peninsula. There is also a sizeable Sikh community. Eurasians and indigenous tribes make up the remaining population. Despite Bahasa Malaysia being the official language, when members of these different communities talk to each other, they generally speak English, which was recently reinstated as the language of instruction in higher education.
The main indigenous tribe is the Iban of Sarawak, who number 395,000. They are largely longhouse dwellers and live along the Rejang and Baram rivers. The Bidayuh (107,000) are concentrated on Sarawak's Skrang River. The Orang Asli (80,000) live in small scattered groups in Peninsular Malaysia. Traditionally nomadic agriculturalists, many have been absorbed into modern Malaysia

The Cameron Highlands are the largest and most genteel of the hill resorts in Malaysia. It's located in Pahang's northwestern corner, at an altitude of 1,829 meters. The Cameron Highlands were discovered by William Cameron in 1885. In these days the British planters realized that those mountains were very fertile. Because tea was prized commodity among the colonies, they decided to grow tea on the slopes of the Cameron Highlands. British families who were stationed in Malaysia at the time also took to hills in a respite from the hot, humid tin mines and rubber plantations. Some of the old bungalows, which they left behind are still being preserved for viewing by tourist, with a few facilities added for the conveniences of visitors. So, much of the character of the Cameron Highlands has remained unchanged since colonial times.

Much of Malaysia is still heavily forested, despite its major timber industry. A mountain range running south down the centre of the peninsula divides east from west. The rubber plantations which make Malaysia the world's largest rubber producer cover much of the coastal plains and hills of the west. The climate is hot and humid, although it is cooler in the highlands. The northeast monsoon, bringing heavy rains, blows from November through to April. The southwest monsoon blows from May to October and brings drier weather.

Food
Rice is the staple food in Malaysian cuisine. It is often eaten at breakfast with coconut milk, anchovies and boiled egg. Noodles are also popular. Malaysian recipes often include coconut, shrimp paste, satay, fish or meat. Nonya food is a combination of Chinese ingredients with Malaysian herbs and spices. The regional variations of Chinese cooking are available as well as the food of the other ethnic and religious groups. In Malaysia a popular way of eating is to buy food from the hawker stalls in the street which offer a wide variety of different foods. Fresh fruits include durian, mangoes, jack fruit, star fruit, papaya, pineapple and pomelo.

The language of Malaysia is Bahasa Malaysia. Chinese dialects and Tamil are spoken by the respective ethnic groups. English is the language of business and also helps communications between language groups. Around half of the population of Malaysia (22,662,365 in 2002) are Malays, the second largest group is the Chinese. Up to ten percent of the people are Indian with a very small number of Orang Asli, the original people of Malaysia or aborigines.

With 1957's independence, a new series of difficult decisions lay ahead of Malaya, the first of which was to determine exactly what territories would be included in the new state. In 1961, the term "Malaysia" came into being after Tunku convinced Singapore, Sabah, and Sarawak to join Malaya in a federal union (Singapore later opted out of the union, peacefully, in 1965). Afraid that the union would interfere with his expansionistic plans, Indonesia's president Sukharno launched attacks against Malaysia in Borneo and on the peninsula, all of which were unsuccessful.

National identity
Another immediate problem was the determination of a national identity. Malaysia was a mix of people from many races and cultures, and uniting them under a common flag was not an easy enterprise. Because Malays represented the majority, the constitution gave them permanent spots in the government, made Islam the national religion, and made Malay the national language; but the Chinese firmly dominated business and trade, and most Malay were suffering economic hardships. The government, controlled by the United Malay National Organization, passed the New Economic Policy, which attempted to increase economic opportunity for the Malay by establishing various quotas in their favor. Unsurprisingly, many Chinese opposed the new arrangement and formed a significant opposition party. In 1969, after the opposition party won a significant seats, riots swepts through Kuala Lumpur and the country was placed in a state of emergency for two years. It was a painful moment in the young nation's history that most Malaysians prefer to forget.

In the last two decades, Malaysia has undergone tremendous growth and prosperity, and has arguably made significant progress in race relations. Many attribute the country's success to the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohammed, who has led the country since 1981.

Malaysia's flag is based on that of the United States, a country whose democratic ideals the young nation sought to emulate upon gaining independence from Great Britain in 1957. The 14 stripes represent Malaysia's states, while the square in the upper left contains the moon and sun of Islam.

Kuala Lumpur
More than any other spot in the country, Kuala Lumpur, or "KL" as it is commonly known, is the focal point of new Malaysia. While the city's past is still present in the evocative British colonial buildings of the Dataran Merdeka and the midnight lamps of the Petaling Street nightmarket, that past is everywhere met with insistent reminders of KL's present and future. The city's bustling streets, its shining, modern office towers, and its cosmopolitan air project an unbounded spirit of progress and symbolize Malaysia's unhesitating leap into the future. To some, this spirit seems to have been gained at the loss of ancient cultural traditions, but in many ways KL marks the continuation rather than the loss of Malaysia's rich past. Like Malacca five hundred years before, KL's commercial centre is a grand meeting place for merchants and travelers from all over the world. With a height of 1,453 feet, the world's tallest buildings now rise above the skyline of Kuala Lumpur. They are called the Petronas Towers, and, inevitably, they have become the symbols for the astounding growth that has taken place in Malaysia over the last two decades. As fate would have it, however, their supreme status will probably be shortlived: by the year 2001, Shanghai's World Financial Center is expected to top off at record-breaking 1,508 feet.



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