Petronas Le Tour de Langkawi 2019 gets thumbs up

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The 24th edition of Le Tour de Langkawi concluded successfully in Langkawi on Saturday with the organisers promising a better show next year and work towards further elevating the standard of the country’s premier cycle race.

Organisers Human Voyage expressed satisfaction over the organisation of this year’s PETRONAS Le Tour de Langkawi 2019, saying that except for some minor administrative issues, the race had met the expectation of its stakeholders, sponsors as well as fans and the masses.

Prior to the start of the race on April 6, Human Voyage’s reputation was at stake as they had only less than 60 days to work on the preparation of the Tour following changes on the dates of the race.

UCI’s President Commissaire Sven Calus has given the race the thumbs up and said it was a well-organised 8-day event without any major incidents or issues which went against UCI’s protocol and standards.

Chief Executive Officer Datuk Ahmad Mustafa yesterday heaved a sigh of relief following UCI’s recognition, saying that Human Voyage will immediately conduct a post mortem involving all stakeholders and reveal plans for next year’s Tour in two months’ time.

Human Voyage’s contract to run the Tour is up until 2021.

The uncertainties over the running of this year’s Tour were quickly quashed following the launch of the race route and the introduction of Petronas as the Tour’s title sponsor for three years (2019-2021).

Admittedly, the change in dates to April 6-13 had affected the presence of World Team outfits but the inclusion of the 1,740m Genting Highlands climb has more than made up for the disappointment and kept the Hors-Classe 2.0 status intact. 

There were more excitement soon after the race started off well with the opening stage from Petronas Twin Tower in the heart of Kuala Lumpur to Tampin.

The local interests continue to rise following creditable performance by riders from Malaysian pro outfits Team Sapura Cycling (TSC) and Terengganu Cycling Team (TSG). Former St. George Cycling rider Benjamin Dyball (overall winner) of Australia and local hero Hariff Saleh (stage winner) were instrumental in creating the positive buzz amongst the Malaysian fans following their exploits in the general classification and sprint challenges respectively.

Throughout the 8-day race, fans were treated with fast and intense action as riders push themselves hard, hitting an average speed of 45kph under the hot and humid tropical weather in the Peninsula.

For Dyball, Sprint King Travis McCabe of Floyd’s Racing Pro, King of Mountains winner Angus Lyons (Oliver’s Real Food Racing) and Asian Best rider Vadim Pronskiy (Vino Astana-Motors), more good things are on the cards following their feat in LTdL 2019 as proven by previous winners like Alesandro Petacchi, Fred Rodriguez, Jose Serpa, Marcel Kittel and Caleb Ewan who have all made it big in Europe.

The penultimate and finale in Langkawi, the race’s birthplace, has thrust the island back into the limelight, earning praise from Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who was present at both the start and finishing line in Langkawi. 

“When it was first organised, people were a bit sceptical and could not clearly see its potential, but LTdL has now grown tremendously with local riders standing tall on the podium and winning jerseys.

“I believe the glory is back, the crowd and spectators came out in droves to witness the action while live telecast and highlights during the 8-day race have attracted some 400 global audience,” said Tun Mahathir after the prize giving ceremony in Kuah.

“Generally, Malaysians welcome the race and Langkawi has now become a hub for sports, leisure and cycling,” said Tun Dr Mahathir.

Datuk Ahmad Mustafa, in a post-race press conference, acknowledged teething problems prior and during the race but was satisfied with the overall organisation which he said has taught him and his team valuable lessons.

As organisers, Human Voyage, said Datuk Ahmad, is willing to accept criticism and consider feedbacks from all relevant parties to help them put up a better race next year.

“Time was not our side as we had only one and a half month to work on. All said, I’m happy and truly satisfied with whatever we have achieved today, especially the great and continuous support rendered to us by the Ministry of Sports, sponsors, States, private and uniformed bodies and most importantly the people, spectators and fans. We’ve had states coming to us and offered to be hosts again next year.

“We’ll go back to the drawing board, identify whatever mistakes and things which need further improvement and come up with better plan this time around.  This year’s dates were definitely not ideal to attract highly-ranked World Team outfits.

“Therefore, we’ll be putting forward a proposal to UCI for an early date for 2020, perhaps maybe end January or early February, prior to the start of the European season and right after the Tour Down Under in Australia. “

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