Dec 4, 2013

KATUSHA AND TINKO­­­FF-SAXO TO MAKE THEIR DEBUT AT LTDL



BUKITJALIL, 4th December 2013 - 22 teams are expected to line up at the 19th edition of LeTour de Langkawi scheduled to kick off on Malaysia’s Paradisiacal island onFebruary 27. The ten-day long UCI 2.HC event is set to have its mostprestigious start list ever as five Pro Teams have already signed up.

“Wehave two more spots available for Pro Teams as per now”, LTdL chief operatingofficer Emir Abdul Jalal revealed. “We’re trying hard to get two more of theworld’s best teams. Compared to last year, we’ve lost the participation ofGarmin-Sharp and Omega Pharma-Quick Step. They’ve told us they were happy withtheir experience and they like our race very much but this time around, itcould simply not fit into their schedule. They’ll be welcome back next year.However, they’ve been replaced by two of the biggest teams in the world:Katusha from Russia and Tinkoff-Saxo, which is the team of Alberto Contadoreven though it doesn’t mean that he will come to Malaysia.”

Rostersare yet to be finalized but Katusha will be directed in Malaysia by their teammanager Viatcheslav Ekimov, a former Olympic champion and a true legend ofcycling just like Alexandre Vinokourov who rode Le Tour de Langkawi in his lastseason in 2012 and keeps sending his team Astana to Malaysia now that he’s themanager.

Forboth Katusha and Tinkoff-Saxo, it will be an unprecedented participation toLTdL with their current organization but the first version of a team sponsoredby Russian magnate Oleg Tinkov goes as far back as 2007. “Le Tour de Langkawiwas the first race of Tinkoff Credit System as a Pro Continental team thatyear”, Emir remembered.

“Theirfirst ever pro victory was stage 9 from Putrajaya to Seremban with PavelBrutt.” The first Tinkoff team became Katusha as Russia’s Global CyclingProject in 2009 while Tinkoff became a co-sponsor of the Saxo Bank team in2012. This week, he announced to have purchased 100% of the shares of the teampreviously owned by Bjarne Riis who remains in the role of team manager.

“Beingtrusted by these very important people in cycling show the credibility of ourevent worldwide”, Emir added as he also praised Orica-GreenEdge, Astana andBelkin for entering LTdL once again.

Up todate, four Pro Continental teams have also signed up: MTN-Qhubeka,Unitedhealthcare, Androni Giocattoli and first timers Team Colombia whose enrolmentform features Fabio Duarte. The former U23 world champion was second toVincenzo Nibali in last year’s queen stage of the Giro d’Italia.

“Wecould get more European teams as many of them are willing to come to Malaysia”,Emir continued, “but we also feel that it is our duty as Asian organizers togive the riders of our continent a chance to perform at the highest level.”

Continentalteams to line up will be Terengganu TSG from Malaysia, KSPO from Korea, AisanRacing from Japan, Giant-Champion System (formerly known as Max Success) fromChina, CCN Gios from Brunei, OCBC Singapore, Synergy Baku from Azerbaijan,Tabriz Petrochemical from Iran as well as national teams from Malaysia,Indonesia and Hong Kong.

Organisedby the Ministry of Youth and Sports, via the National Sports Council (NSC) inassociation with the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF). The 19thedition of Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) from February 27 to March 8, 2014 is setto cover a total distance of 1,506.5km over 10 stages, the UCI 2.HC (horscategory) race featuring again as one of the biggest events on the UCI AsiaTour calendar.

CONFIRMED TEAMS FOR LTdL 
PRO TOUR
1. BELKIN-PRO CYCLING TEAM (BEL) – NED
2. ASTANA PRO TEAM (AST) – KAZ
3. ORICA GREENEDGE (OGE) – AUS
4. KATUSHA (KAT) – RUS
5. TEAM SAXO TINKOFF (TST) - DEN
PROFESSIONAL CONTINENTAL
1. COLOMBIA (COL) – COL
2. ANDRONI GIOCATTOLI - VENEZUELA (AND) – ITA
3. MTN - QHUBEKA (MTN) – RSA
4. UNITEDHEALTHCARE PRO CYCLING TEAM (UHC) – USA
CONTINENTAL
1. TERENGGANU CYCLING TEAM (TSG) – MAS
2. AISAN RACING TEAM (AIS) - JPN
3. OCBC SINGAPORE CONTINENTAL CYCLING TEAM (TSI) - SIN
4. TABRIZ PETROCHEMICAL TEAM (TPT) – IRI
5. SYNERGY BAKU CYCLING PROJECT (BCP) – AZE
6. KSPO (KSP) – KOR
7. CCN GIOS CYCLING TEAM (CCN) – BRU
8. GIANT-CHAMPION SYSTEM PRO CYCLING (MSS) - CHN
NATIONAL
1. MALAYSIA
2. INDONESIA

3. HONG KONG

MALAYSIA AIRLINES BEST ASIAN RIDER JERSEY TO ATTRACT SERIOUS ATTENTION AGAIN





KELANA JAYA, Wednesday, 27th November 2013 - The white jersey that highlights the best Asian rider ofLe Tour de Langkawi will once again be supported by Malaysia Airlines for the19th edition from February 27 to March 8. This classification is amajor target for the regional cyclists as well as it raises outsiders’awareness of the progress of Asian cycling.

In a sponsorship and jersey handover ceremony held at the MalaysiaAirlines Academy in Kelana Jaya, Malaysia Airlines’ Regional Senior VicePresident, Malaysia Muzammil Mohamad said, “It is a privilege for MalaysiaAirlines to be associated with the Le Tour de Langkawi once again. As oneworld’sSoutheast Asia hub airline, it makes good business sense to be a sponsor forthe Asian Champion jersey, the overall leading rider among Asian participantsat the tour.”

“Our association with reputable sporting events such as LTdL iscertain to promote Malaysia as an international destination for sports,business and tourism. MAS finds that sports tourism is a key enabler inproviding that support for growing yields where our foreign visitors are keento spend on quality products and services during their stay in Malaysia.”Muzammil continued.

He added, “Meanwhile, Malaysia Airlines is currently offeringattractive domestic fares through our Year-End Specials (YES) for immediatetravel until 30 June 2014. We urge race enthusiasts to book now and secure thebest value for their travel should they wish to follow the race in February2014. These deals are made available on all Malaysia Airlines distributionchannels mainly www.malaysiaairlines.com, Malaysia Airlines’ Call Centre 1 300 88 3000, Malaysia Airlinesticket offices and appointed agents throughout Malaysia”.

Also present in the sponsorship ceremony were Chairman of the LTdLOrganising Committee Dato’ Seri Zolkples Embong, Malaysia Airlines’ Head ofStrategic Communications Dato’ Najmuddin Abdullah and Deputy Chairman of theLTdL Organising Committee Dato’ Hj. Ab Jalil Abdullah.

“Officials at the international cycling union (UCI) keep saying thatcycling is growing faster in Asia than anywhere else in the world”, noted LTdLchief operating officer Emir Abdul Jalal.

“We’re proud to be part of that movement. With all the participationsrequests we get from Europe, America and Oceania, we could ignore Asian teamsbut that’s out of question.” Emir added.

Le Tour de Langkawi is the highest ranked stage race on the Asia Tourwith a UCI 2.HC status like Chinese events Tour of Qinghai Lake and Tour ofHainan. Every year, approximately half of the starting teams hail from Asia,usually Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore, Iran, Kazakhstanand, of course, Malaysia.

The best Asian rider competition has been created two years after theinception of Le Tour de Langkawi in 1996. The individual classification hasbeen won successively by riders from Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong, Iran, Korea,Kazakhstan and more recently China as Wang Meiyin made history for his countryin 2013.

The 25 year old from Qufu in the Shandong province already wore theMAS white jersey of best Asian rider when he struck the world by winning soloin the Cameron Highlands on stage 3. In the inaugural stage, he claimed allthree intermediate sprints and collected enough time bonus on a flat terrain toposition himself in the top three overall prior to the mountain stages.

Atop Genting Highlands, he limited his loss to maintain a tight fiveseconds advantage over second best Asian rider Amir Kolahdozhagh from Tabriz.At the end of the ten-day long event, he finished fifth overall and king of themountains as well.

“Wang’s epic ride made the 2013 Le Tour de Langkawi a very interestingone”, Emir remembered. “It’s been the best ever performance by a Chinesecyclist worldwide so far.  Therefore, the impact in international mediahas been terrific for LTdL and Malaysia.

“For now, we don’t know which rider can take over from Wang as theteams’ invitation process is still ongoing and the teams are yet to determinetheir line-ups but I’m sure that once again, Asian riders will be well preparedto challenge to World Tour riders. Malaysian riders are also improving, so Iwouldn’t be surprised to see one of them wearing the MAS best Asian rider whitejersey.”

Previous winners of the best Asian ridercompetition at LTdL :
1998:     Tonton Susanto (INA)
1999:     Hideto Yukinari (JAP)
2000:     Wang Kam Po (HKG)
2001:     Wang Kam Po (HKG)
2002:     Tonton Susanto (INA)
2003:     Tomoya Kano (JAP)
2004:     Ghader Mizbani (IRA)
2005:     Koji Fukushima (JAP)
2006:     Hossein Askari (IRA)
2007:     Ghader Mizbani (IRA)
2008:     Shinichi Fukushima (JAP)
2009:     Tonton Susanto (INA)
2010:     Gong Hyo Suk (KOR)
2011:     Rahim Emami (IRA)
2012:     Alexandr Dyachenko (KAZ)
2013:     Wang Meiyin (CHN)

THE HEAT IS BACK!





IF 2013 WAS GOOD, LTdL 2014 PROMISES TO BE EVEN BETTER

PUTRAJAYA, 12 November 2013 - Cast into epic battles from the start, another world-classpeloton is expected for the 19th edition of Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) fromFebruary 27 to March 8, 2014, and will be kept on their toes from start tofinish.

Set to cover a total distance of 1,506.5km over 10 stages, theUCI 2.HC (hors category) race featuring again as one of the biggest events onthe UCI Asia Tour calendar, will also bring viewers through a myriad ofbreathtaking sceneries on offer in Peninsula Malaysia.

Minister of Youth and Sports YB Khairy Jamaluddin announced today that therace would be more nail biting compared to previous years.

"Not only that, we are expecting exciting competitionwith all leaders' jerseys possibly changing hands everyday. It will be an openrace until the very end, which will definitely keep the fans excited,"said Khairy.

The race starts in it's spiritual home in Langkawi with atricky 101.1km route dotted throughout the stage. The peloton won't have iteasy with five category 4 climbs throughout the stage, beginning with an ascentup Bukit Malut, just five kilometres from the start in Porto Malai.

That will be followed by a stage that begins at a new startvenue, in Amanjaya, Sungai Petani, Kedah with the second stage covering 132.5kmto the serene finish venue at the Taiping Lake Gardens.

In stage 3, the race will be finishing at Dataran Merdeka,which was previously the iconic last stage for previous editions of LTdL,before Terengganu came in as venue sponsor, this will give fans in Kuala Lumpura nostalgic feeling.

Though the race features its queen stage, the climb to thesummit of Genting Highlands on Stage 4, Khairy said the winner of the red kingof the mountains jersey may not necessarily emerge the victor in the mountainsclassification with many more points on offer in the remaining six stages.

Significantly, the holder of the yellow jersey after theGenting Highlands stage will be tested in the remaining six stages, highlightedby Stage 7, a lengthy 230.1km coastal route from Kota Tinggi to Pekan, which isthe second longest stage in LTdL history.

In fact the lengthy Stages 6, 7, 8 and 9 will see the pelotoncover an average distance of 200km per day, with levels of fatigue playing amajor role in opening up the race.

"With 22 teams on the startlist, for the sprinters' teamsthe favourites will also find it hard to win every flat stage, which might alsonot necessarily finish in bunch sprints," said Khairy.

LTdL 2014, which carries the tagline "The Heat isBack", is the sequel to last year’s ‘The Heat is on” which have help boostthe impact of LTdL’s brand to the worldwide media. LTdL has been dubbed as thehottest annual race in Asia, run under immense tropical heat, with passionatecycling fans lined-up along the route, which seldom is part of the challenge inraces across the continent.

“LTdL is not only known as racing under the intense heat, thehardest climb up to Genting Highlands. It is also known that the race receivesthe warmest welcome and support from all Malaysians. For Asian riders, LTdL isa platform to showcase their talents against the best in the world.”

"Theo Bos, Francesco Chicchi, Brian Coquard, PierreRolland and Andrea Guardini provided a healthy impact for the race last year. Theirsuperstar status raised the interest of the international media about the raceand last year we received increased coverage because of that,”

“For the 2014 edition I am pleased to announce that Pro TeamSaxo-Tinkoff have confirmed their participation and I was told that theorganizers are still in discussion with 2 more Pro Teams to add to the line-up."said Khairy.

“In 2013, LTdL reached a historical milestone with the latestcollaboration with sports channel Eurosports. 10 hour Highlights of the racewere broadcasted in Eurosport 1, Eurosports 2 and Eurosports Asia Pacific tomore than 160 countries and along Internet TV site Cycling TV that has over amillion subscribers. Looking at the statistics, this exposure will definitelyhelp the promotion of Visit Malaysia 2014,”

YB Khairy also highlighted the fact that the UCI had also, fora fourth consecutive year, acknowledged the level of organisation by accordingthe race an "excellent level of organisation" certificate.

In confirming that via an officialletter, UCI expertise coordinator (road events) Josephine Clausen also noted thatthis was due to the high levels of safety during the event, along with goodinformation provided via briefings of press motorcycle pilots and technicalguides.

The LTdL received very positive remarksfor safety throughout the race especially with the presence of 78 motorcycleescorts and 30 marshals on motorbikes. The organisers' reaction to flooding,with an alternative route with its profile and detailed map establishedovernight, also received high remarks from the UCI.

Apart from the organisation, the 18thedition also attracted an unprecedented participation of five UCI Pro Teamswith the Astana, Omega Pharma-Quickstep, Garmin-Sharp, Blanco Pro Cycling andOrica-GreenEdge teams competing in the race. The 2014 edition, can be expectedto see an even stronger participation from the top teams.

Alsopresent in the launching were Ministry of Youth and Sports Deputy Minister YBDatuk Saravanan Murugan, Secretary General Datuk Jamil Bin Salleh, NationalSports Council Director General Dato' Seri Zolkples Embong, Malaysian NationalCycling Federation president Tuan Haji Abu Samah Abdul Wahab, state officialsand tour sponsors.

Le Tour de Langkawi 2014 RACE ROUTE
Stage 1 - Thursday 27th February2014 : Langkawi (101.1km)
Stage 2 - Friday 28th February2014 : Sungai Petani - Taiping (132.5km)
Stage 3 - Saturday 1st March 2014: Kampar - Kuala Lumpur (166.5km)
Stage 4 - Sunday 2nd March 2014 : MASSubang - Genting Highlands (110.9km)
Stage 5 - Monday 3rd March 2014 : Karak- Rembau (139.3km)
Stage 6 - Tuesday 4th March 2014 :Melaka - Pontian Kechil (199.1km)
Stage 7 - Wednesday 5th March 2014: Kota Tinggi - Pekan (230.1km)
Stage 8 - Thursday 6th March 2014: Kuantan - Marang (202.6km)
Stage 9 - Friday 7th March 2014 : BandarPermaisuri - Kuala Terengganu (109.7km)
Stage 10 - Saturday 8th March 2014: Tasik Kenyir - Kuala Terenganu Loop (114.7km)
TOTALDISTANCE : 1506.5km

Aug 22, 2013

EMPHATIC WIN FOR TABRIZ, ANUAR TAKES SPRINT TITLE


PENAMPANG, Thursday 22 August 2013 - Iran's Tabriz Petrochemical Team (TPT) swept three titles after Mehdi Sohrabi added another stage win to their collection in the final stage of the Tour of Borneo 2013 from Kundasang to Penampang today.

Veteran Ghader Mizbani, 38, secured the overall general classification title after finishing in the seven-man breakaway that resulted in Sohrabi taking victory ahead of Uzbekistan's Ruslan Kadimov and Huon Salmon-Genesys' Joseph Cooper.

That wasn't all. Tabriz secured the top 2 spots in the final general classification with Mirsamad Pourseyedigolakhour finishing behind Mizbani, who also won the mountains and Asian riders' classifications.

The Iranian team also won the overall teams title by a massive 16-minutes advantage over second placed Huon Salmon-Genesys of Australia.

Tabriz had controlled the proceedings from the opening stage, even holding taking an early win through Sohrabi in Stage Three, before the race hit the decisive Stage Four, which featured the tough climbs up Gunung Emas and Kundasang.

"We had targeted Stage Four so we had prepared for that and we attacked according to plan. Today, we saw a chance for a breakaway and we tried to get another win as a bonus," said Mizbani.

"Our team was strong and well-prepared for this race. So, I'm happy with our performance. We now lead the UCI Asia Tour teams' standings, but not the individual rankings, so that is our next target."

Tabriz's performance was on another planet, as they showed today in having four riders in the seven-man breakaway - Mizbani, Sohrabi, Hossein Askari and Pourseyedigolakhour.

"We know our level is higher than most of the other Asian teams and we should be racing in Europe or America, but there are some political issues in that. Because of sanctions against Iran, it is impossible for us to get visas to enter most countries outside of Asia, so we are limited to racing in the UCI Asia Tour," said Mizbani.

"I am sure that with our level, we should be able to even win some big races in Europe, and we won't have problems getting invited. The only problem is, because we are Iranian, getting visas would be impossible."

Synergy-Baku Cycling Project's Anuar Manan was the only rider to deny Tabriz a clean sweep of titles when he barely managed to take the points classification victory by a single point over Sohrabi.

"For me this was a race where I was making my comeback, after a long lay-off due to my back injury. So, I had planned to use this to get back into form. Winning the points classification is just a bonus for me, as I still have some way to go before I reach my peak form again," said Anuar.

"I still haven't won a stage and my team have targeted the Tour of China in October for me to do that, so I want to ensure I am back on form by then."
Mehdi Sohrabi in great form takes the final stage in Penampang

Anuar steals the green jersey from an almost clean sweep by Ghader Mizbani (Asian, KOM & Yellow) 
Tabriz Petrochemical takes the best Asian team and Overall Team classification



Aug 21, 2013

MIZBANI AND POURSEYEDIGOLAKHOUR DEMOLISH ALL OPPOSITION IN MASSIVE MOUNTAIN STAGE VICTORY

Ghader Mizbani takes the stage win, the Asian, KOM and Yellow jerseys


Today's winners at Kundasang
Jersey leaders after today's stage

KUNDASANG, Wednesday  21 August 2013 - Tabriz Petrochemical's Ghader Mizbani emerged with a devastating victory in much anticipated Stage Four of the Tour of Borneo 2013, featuring the gruelling climb up to Kundasang today, to grab the overall lead, the Asian riders' classification and the king of the mountains leads.

The 38-year old Iranian, who escaped from the peloton with teammate Mirsamad Pourseyedigolakhour at the foot of the first category climb to Gunung Emas, completed the 147.1km stage in four hours 31 minutes and 51 seconds with both teammates crossing the finish line in the same time.

The Tabriz pair finished six minutes and 25 seconds ahead of third placed Joseph Cooper of Huon Salmon-Genesys, to register a massive lead in the general classification which is unlkely to be threatened in the final stage from Kundasang to Penampang tomorrow.

Malaysia's Anuar Manan of the Synergy-Baku Cycling Project, retained the green jersey as the points classification leader although he failed to add any points in the intermediate sprint in Tambunan today.

Making their debut in the Tour of Borneo after missing out on the race last year, Tabriz were hardly threatened, although Huon Salmon-Genesys rider Nathan Earle, last year's runner-up was expected to provide a stern challenge after winning the stage to Kundasang last year.

Tabriz's intentions were clear right from the moment they controlled the race to keep the peloton together and their attack at the foot of Gunung Emas.

Though chased by a pack of 10 riders, including Cooper, Earle and Synergy-Baku's John Ebsen, Mizbani and Mirsamad continued to pull a gap that extended to more than 10 minutes when they approached the intermediate sprint in Tambunan.

"This is our first time entering Tour of Borneo and we have never rode this route before. But because there were two difficult climbs, we wanted to be in front. The first climb to Gunung Emas was very difficult but we made an early attack to ensure victory," said Mizbani.

"This was out targeted stage and today was good for Tabriz because all our riders managed to do their job well," added Mizbani, who has now collected 30 points in the mountains classification.

On his advantage of 6 minutes 25 seconds over closer rival Cooper, entering the final stage from Kundasang to Penampang tomorrow, Mizbani said the big gap doesn't necessarily guarantee the yellow jersey will remain in their hands as anything could happen.

"We will still be careful tomorrow (Stage 5) because anything can happen, like accidents or mechanical problems," said Mizbani.

Meanwhile, Anuar went through an anxious moment when he was involved in a small accident right as the race was flagged off for the actual start at kilometre zero, when he crashed into the race director's car and suffered light injuries and mechanical problems.

He still maintains a 16-point advantage over closest rival Mehdi Sohrabi (Tabriz) in the points classification after managing to continue the race despite pain in his hands, knees and ankles.

"I hope I will be able to ride as normal tomorrow because it is important for me to continue collecting points at intermediate sprints and challenge for the stage victory. I hope the damage to my bicycle will not affect my chances," said Anuar, 27.

The best ranked Malaysian on the day was Loh Sea Keong (OCBC Singapore) who finished 17th, 18 minutes and 35 seconds behind Mizbani, while two other riders failed to finish the stage, meaning just 96 riders will start the final stage tomorrow.

Tabriz also strengthened their position in the teams classification with a total time of 45 hours 59 minutes and 09 seconds, more than 15 minutes ahead of Genesys.

The final stage tomorrow will cover 98km from Kundasang to Penampang will be the final chance for challengers to wrest their targeted jerseys, but the short route and flat finish is expected to see all four jerseys remain with the same riders.

Aug 20, 2013

TERENGGANU-BORN RIDERS DOMINATE PODIUM, SOHRABI RETAINS YELLOW JERSEY

Harrif proves he's the best today

All top 3 today winners hails from Terengganu

The jersey leaders after stage 3
KOTA KINABALU, Tuesday 20 August 2013 - Terengganu Cycling Team (TSG) sprinter Harrif Saleh took victory in Stage Three of the Tour of Borneo 2013 from Penampang to Kota Kinabalu today, while Tabriz Petrochemical's Mehdi Sohrabi successfully retained the yellow jersey although he finished fourth.

It was a much awaited victory for Harrif and his team after missing out on bunch sprints at the finishes of the opening two stages. 

Harrif and his elder brother Zamri, who finished third, worked well together to deny Synergy-Baku's Anuar Manan right on the finish line to finish the 132.6km stage ahead of the peloton in 3 hours 20 minutes and 39 seconds.

Anuar, who continued to display improvements after finishing second in the stage, was still smiling after managing to consolidate his lead in the points classification after adding another 16 points for a 44 points total, 16 points ahead of Sohrabi in that classification.

The red jersey for the king of the mountains switched to Indonesia's Endra Wijaya of CCC after he collected 4 points at the sole categorised climb in Tamparuli to equal LBC's Junrey Navarra, OCBC Singapore's Loh Sea Keong and his own teammate Agung Ali Shahbana atop the mountains classification.

The short and flat stage was undeniably ideal for the TSG gameplan and they executed a successful tactical move to dominate the bunch sprint through Harrif.

"In the first two stages our plans didn't work out because of the hills and some breakaways, which made it difficult for us. I was also unlucky yesterday because I had a mechanical problem and had to use a spare bike," said Harrif.

"But today we rode well. Eventhough Mehdi made an early move, we had my teammate Saiful Anuar Abdul Aziz follow him. I didn't panic as I knew Mehdi would run out of energy. Then I followed Anuar and managed to overtake him at the finish line," added Harrif, who added his second win of the season after winning a stage in the Jelajah Malaysia.

As soon as the stage began at the Dewan Majlis Daerah Penampang, three riders Wijata, Mohd Rauf Nor Misbah (Malaysia) and Chang Wei Kei (RTS) made a breakaway attempt and conquered the first intermediate sprint in Sepangar and the climb at Tamparuli.

Although they were 4 minutes ahead, they were caught by the peloton before Rustom Lim (LBC) made a solo attack on the descent from the hills and was almost two minutes ahead before he was caught by a peloton led by Tabriz with 15km to go.

Tabriz worked hard to catch a group of 8 riders who made a last ditch attempt at a breakaway, before Mehdi tried his move, similar to when he won Stage Two in Papar yesterday, by launching a late attack inside the final 10 kilometres.

However, Mehdi's move didn't work this time as the peloton surged ahead and caught him in the final 50 metres.

"That's cycling. Sometimes our tactics work, sometimes they don't," said Mehdi, before adding that Tabriz will now focus on the mountain stage up to Kundasang at the foot of Mount Kinabalu tomorrow, where either Ghader Mizbani or Hossein Askari are expected to go for the overall victory.

Meanwhile, Anuar said he did not get help from his teammates in the final kilometres and had to make his move on his own, before being overtaken by Harrif at the finish line.

"Without the help of my teammate, I had to work on the sprint alone and was forced to launch my sprint early and I failed because TSG had many riders in the front, giving them an advantage.

"I am still satisfied because I managed to consolidate my position in the points classification with more points and I will try to add to that tomorrow," said Anuar, who is just coming back from a lengthy lay-off due to a back injury.

Three riders failed to finish today's stage, leaving 98 starters for the penultimate stage tomorrow.

Stage 4 of the Tour of Borneo 2013 from Kota Kinabalu to Kundasang is the decider which includes a catrgory 1 climb at Gunusg Emas and an intermediate sprint at Tambunan, before the finish line in Kundasang.


Aug 19, 2013

SOHRABI FIRES EARLY TABRIZ WARNING

Mehdi out-sprints the bunch to take the win


Papar's top 3 winners

Yellow, Blue and Green changes hands after today's stage

PAPAR, Monday 19 August 2013 - Iran's Mehdi Sohrabi fired favourites Tabriz Petrochemical into the driving seat after taking victory in Stage Two, while grabbing the overall general classifcation lead in the Tour of Borneo 2013 today.

Sohrabi, 32, made a last ditch successful breakaway attempt to end the longest stage of this edition of the Tour of Borneo covering 189.5km from Tanjung Aru to Papar.

After an early breakaway of six riders that saw Anuar Manan of the Synergy-Baku Cycling Project sweep top spot in all three intermediate sprints en route to taking over the points classification lead from Corbusier's Paul van der Ploeg, was caught with 50km to go, it first looked certain for another bunch sprint finish.

But Sohrabi had other ideas after tagging along in a 10-man breakaway in the final 10 kilometres before launching a solo attack in the final five kilometres which only LBC's Ronald Lomotos managed to follow. Lomotos barely managed to keep second spot as the peloton rushed in with Tabriz's Hossein Nateghi leading to take third spot right behind the Filipino.

"I was feeling good and my legs felt very good in the final kilometres of the race, so I decided to have a go in the breakaway. It was okay for me to go because our team had our sprinter Hossein Nateghi in the bunch waiting to pounce if it came to a bunch sprint," said Sohrabi, who spent last season riding with Belgian UCI Pro Team Lotto-Belisol.
  
"In the final five kilometres I was still feeling good, so I thought I could go alone for the victory and I saw the rider from LBC followed me. I am happy to have taken the win, as our team came here targeting the overall victory.
  
"We are not going to wait until the fourth stage, the climb up to Kundasang because in cycling anything can happen. There are other strong riders in this race, who could go for the win as well and anything an happen in the race, like crashes or punctures. So it was good for us to take the yellow jersey today."
  
Sohrabi leads the general classification by just four seconds ahead of Corbusier's van der Ploeg, the winner of Stage One on Sunday. Australian van der Ploeg also lost his points classification lead to Anuar, with an exciting battle between the two awaiting ahead with Anuar of 26 points and van der Ploeg just a point behind.
  
Anuar said he went out in the breakaway to take the points in the three intermediate sprints today to put himself into contention for the points classification, but will now focus on getting his first win in the UCI Asia Tour since December 2011.
  
"I am just returning after a long lay-off due to a back injury, so I was planning to enter this race to train and recover my form. But now, I think I'll try to push as well. Since I have a chance I want to go for the points classification win, but there are big points at the finish line as well," said Anuar.
  
"So maybe it would be better to focus on the finish and not the intermediate sprints, so from tomorrow we'll just try to control the race and watch for those high in the points classification, not to allow them to breakaway and close in on the points. It has been a long time, so I want to try and get a victory as well."
  
Stage Three of the Tour of Borneo 2013 tomorrow will be from Penampang to Kota Kinabalu, covering a route of 132.6km.

Aug 18, 2013

AUSSIE GIANT DELIVERS FIRST EVER WIN FOR CORBUSIER

Today's winner in Tuaran

The leaders after stage 1

Saufi and Paul battle it out in Tuaran

The flag-off at 1Borneo

Tough climbs on the first day

KOTA KINABALU, 18 August 2013 - Giant Paul van der Ploeg delivered an historic win for Sarawak's Team Corbusier after beating Terengganu Cycling Team's Saufi Mat Senan in a photo finish at the end of Stage One of the Tour of Borneo 2013, covering 112 kilometres from Kota Kinabalu to Tuaran today.

Standing a massive 6 feet and 7 inches tall, van der Ploeg is surprsingly only the second tallest rider in this second edition of the Tour of Borneo, behind teammate Razif Salleh, but that was the least important statistic when the 23-year old Australian delivered Team Corbusier's first ever victory in the UCI Asia Tour.

"It's also my first ever win in the UCI Asia Tour after several close calls. I got some top 10 finishes and podiums in the Tour of Thailand and the Jelajah Malaysia, but this is the sweetest," said van der Ploeg, the reigning under-23 cross country mountain bike world champion.

The win also gave van der Ploeg the overall lead and the green jersey for the points classification lead, which he admitted wasn't part of the team's plans.

The stage started off with several attacks going off the front of the peloton, although the peloton wasn't eager to let any of them get too far away. A three-man attack comprising Corbusier's Daniel Bonello, LBC's Ronald Oranza and 7-Eleven's Mark John Lexer Galedo was the only breakaway that was allowed to open over a minute's gap midway through the stage.

But they were brought back together as a decisive lead group formed shortly before the second categorised climb of the day in Tenghilan. The double climb across Tenghilan which saw two categorised climbs in the opposite directions contested, saw LBC's Junrey Navarra take the lead in the mountains classification with four points at the end of the stage.

"It wasn't too difficult a climb, so I was able to go for it comfortably," said Navarra, 21.

Van der Ploeg said he was dropped as the front of the peloton sped up both climbs but managed to work hard to catch up both times, before manning his way to the front and challenging in the sprint for the finish line.

"It was really a tough day, made worse by the extreme heat. I came here two days ago from the Ausralian winter with temperatures under 5 degress celsius, and here we have almost 40 degrees and extreme humidity, so it was still quite a shock to my system," said van der Ploeg.

"I had to really work hard to catch the front group again after I was dropped both times at the climb. So when I managed to get to the front, I was thinking to myself whether this was really happening, especially when I crossed the finish line. I still didn't know whether I'd won or not, but then I found that I did."

The win means Team Corbusier will have the burden of defending the yellow jersey beginning Stage Two tomorrow, but van der Ploeg said his teammates were up for it.

"The boys showed we were serious today. In virtually every breakaway that went, we had riders in it. Then in the final one, I was there with Bonello. It will be difficult, but we have this bonus of the yellow jersey that comes with winning the first stage of the Tour, so I think my teammates are up for it, so we're going to give it a shot," said van der Ploeg.

Only just missing out on the win to van der Ploeg, Saufi was pleased with his form, having been out of action since April. But he has the blue jersey as the leader of the Asian riders' classification, which would be something the Terengganu Cycling Team will work to defend as well.

"It feels got this result, despite being out of action for a few months. There are some really strong contenders for the Asian riders' classification, but of course we will try to defend it and keep this jersey."

The Tour of Borneo continues with a longer day in the saddle for everybody, with Stage Two tomorrow covering 189.5 kilometres from Tanjung Aru to Papar.

Aug 15, 2013

20 STRONG TEAM LINE-UP CONFIRMED FOR TOUR OF BORNEO 2013

Team Corbusier Sarawak

Huon Salmon-Genesys

OCBC Singapore

Sabah Team

Synergy-Baku Cycling Project

Tabriz Petrochemical Team

Terengganu Cycling Team

KOTA KINABALU, 15 August 2013 - A 20-strong line-up of teams led by Jelajah Malaysia overall team champions Synergy-Baku Cycling Project and defending UCI Asia Tour overall team champions Terengganu Cycling Team are set to start the second edition of the Tour of Borneo this Sunday, August 18, 2013.

Also present will be Iran's Tabriz Petrochemical Team, who will start as favourites with former UCI Asia Tour overall individual champions Ghader Mizbani, Mehdi Sohrabi and Hossein Askari in their ranks, in an impressive start list that feature 10 UCI Continental teams.

In announcing the confirmation of participating teams, Tour of Borneo organising chairman Dato' Fredie Sua highlighted that a new overall champion is set to be crowned in the absence of defending champion Michael Torckler of New Zealand and his Pure Black Racing Team.

"We expect a more competitive race this year with what is a stronger field with 10 Continental teams and four strong national teams, including our own Malaysian national team. We always expect national teams like Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan to be strong and they might even challenge the supremacy of the Continental teams," said Dato' Fredie

Along with the 10 Continental Teams and four national teams, comes the challenge of six club and state teams, led by Indonesia's Customs Cycling Team and a strong Royal Malaysian Police Team which won the overall Malaysian teams' classification in the Jelajah Malaysia in June.

The island of Borneo this time will be represented by two teams - the Sabah state team and Sarawak's Team Corbusier, who made their international debut in the Jelajah Malaysia.

"We have an exciting line-up of teams, no doubt about that. The field is very well balanced with mainly established teams with experienced riders, while it will be interesting to see how the teams from Borneo adapt to this high level of competition, since road cycling is still fledgling over here, unlike in West Malaysia," said Dato' Fredie.

"This is the whole idea, we need to give cycling sufficient exposure in this part of the country and to get the people interested in the sport. Who knows, from here we might soon discover potential cycling stars of the future." He added.

TEAM LIST FOR TOUR of BORNEO 2013 :

CONTINENTAL
Synergy Baku Cycling Team (Azerbaijan)
Terengganu Cycling Team (Malaysia)
Tabriz Petrochemical Team (Iran)
CCN Cycling Team (Brunei)
OCBC Singapore Continental Cycling Team (Singapore)
Huon Salmon Genesys Wealth Advisers Pro Cycling  (Australia)
Team 7 Eleven Presented By Road Bike Philippines (Philippines)
Team LBC (Philippines)
Polygon Sweet Nice (Ireland)
RTS Racing Team (Taiwan)

NATIONAL
Malaysia National Team (Malaysia)
Uzbekistan National Team (Uzbekistan)
Kazakhstan National Team (Kazakhstan)
Bahrain National Team (Bahrain)

STATE
Sabah (Malaysia)
Terengganu (Malaysia)

CLUB
Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (Malaysia)
Polis Diraja Malaysia (Malaysia)
Team Corbusier Sarawak (Malaysia)
Customs Cycling Club (Indonesia)

The second edition of Tour of Borneo will be held from 18th to 22nd August 2013, covering the west coast of Sabah. The 2.2 category Tour is sanctioned by the International Cycling Union (UCI) and is listed in UCI Asian Tour calendar, it is hoped to promote Sabah as the ultimate sports tourism destination in Malaysia, and promote cycling in the state.