Terengganu-Polygon Cycling Team (TSG) will lead the challenge of teams from Southeast Asia at the 27th edition of Le Tour de Langkawi 2023 slated for September 23-30 this year.
As one of the most successful continental professional teams with extensive international experience, TSG are seen as the best bet when compared to other regional outfits such as 7-Eleven Cliqq-Air21 from the Philippines, Nusantara Cycling Team (Indonesia), Roojai Online Insurance (Thailand) and the Malaysia national team.
Even though TSG have not raced for the past few weeks due to the local riders wanting to focus on the national championship in Melaka, they are still ranked at a higher level considering their decision to send their imports to the Huangshan Tour in China last week.
Based on the latest rankings by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the team based in Kuala Terengganu is currently ranked 35th in the world with 1009 points – ahead of other Southeast Asian teams such as Roojai (ranked 40th) and 7-Evelen Cliqq (105th) while Nusantara is outside the world’s top 250.
However, this position may change a few notches higher following the positive results TSG achieved at the Tour of Huangshan which ended last Sunday when Jambaljamts Sainbayar won Stage 2 and finished second overall in the race in China.
At the domestic level, twice winner of LTdL’s King of the Mountain Muhamad Nur Aiman Zariff, also picked up the mass relay event title in the Malaysia National Championships in Bukit Katil, Melaka, last Sunday.
On their reputation in the LTdL peloton itself, TSG stood out with one yellow jersey win at the 2018 edition of the LTdL through Artem Ovechkin, as well as collecting four stage wins from Ovechkin (in Stage 5 of LTdL 2018) and three from Harrif Saleh (Stage 2 of LTdL 2019; as well as Stages 5 and 7 of LTdL 2020).
Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Le Tour de Langkawi 2023, Emir Abdul Jalal said that other than the Malaysia national team, TSG will no doubt be the focus of local fans, especially when they line up against the WorldTeam and ProTeam outfits.
“The presence of quality riders like Jeroen Meijers (Netherlands), Anatoli Budiak (Ukraine), Yousef Reguigui (Algeria), Jambaljamts Sainbayar (Mongolia) and Jesse Ewart (Ireland) alongside the local lads will add further strength to the squad,” he added.
“Although the organizers have not received the full list of six riders for this LTdL, I am confident that TSG will come fully prepared as they hunt down for more stage victories.”
Meanwhile, the presence of two Malaysian-born riders in the Roojai team namely Loh Sea Keong and Muhammad Danieal Haikal Eddy Suhaidee will also attract the attention of local fans, after the team failed to make an appearance last year.
The strength of Roojai, who will be making their debut this year, cannot be denied.
In addition to several European stalwarts like Lucas Karstensen (Germany), Fast Konstantin (Russia), Adne Van Engelen (Netherlands) and Polychronis Tzortzakis (Greece) as well as Mongolian champion, Tegshbayar Batsaikhan, they have also roped in the national champion of Laos, Ariya Phounsavath and Thailand’s U23 national champion, Thimachai Kongphob.
The Philippine team of 7-Evelen Cliqq are not new faces to LTdL where they have participated in LTdL several times previously and where this experience will no doubt make them even better prepared this time around.
Meanwhile, the new outfit from Indonesia, Nusantara Cycling Team which lists two imported riders, Alizadeh Hoessin (Iran) and Afiq Huznie Othman (Malaysia) in their list, should not be underestimated either, especially since they have a packed racing schedule in preparation for this LTdL.
“Another team that will always be highlighted by local fans is the Malaysian national squad which has been somewhat under the radar for the past few years. However, this time around with the National Championships and several tours that they will participate in, I am confident that coach Yusof Nasir will put together the best strategy to give some cheer to the local fans,” said Emir.
LTdL 2023, which has ProSeries status, is organized by the Ministry of Youth and Sports through the National Sports Council (MSN) in collaboration with the National Cycling Federation of Malaysia (PKBM) and will take place in eight stages from 23-30 September next, involving a total distance of 1,280.3km and passing through 11 of the 12 states in the Peninsula.
- TERENGGANU-POLYGON CYCLING TEAM (MAS)
- ROOJAI ONLINE INSURANCE (THA)
- 7-ELEVEN CLIQQ-AIR21 (PHI)
- NUSANTARA CYCLING TEAM (INA)
- MALAYSIA NATIONAL TEAM (MAS)