"MR.LANGKAWI" GUARDINI RETURNS FOR MORE FUN IN THE SUN
KUALA LUMPUR: Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) record stage winner Andrea Guardini returns with all-Italian UCI Professional Continental squad Bardiani-CSF for the 24th edition of the race on April 6 to 13, as the provisional favourite for sprinters' green jersey.
With 24 LTdL stage wins to his name, the 29-year old from Tregnano has earned the nickname "Mr. Langkawi" after exploding onto the scene with five stage wins and the points classification title in his debut in the race in 2011 with the Farnese Vini team.
No other rider has dominated the sprints in a 2.HC race like Guardini has in LTdL and his runaway record shows just how much he loves the race having, since his professional debut in 2011, only missed the 2017 edition when he rode that season with the UAE Abu Dhabi team, which did not compete here.
In all, 24 out of Guardini's 42 career wins to date, have come in LTdL.
Building on it's reputation as a launchpad for promising young Italian riders, Bardiani-CSF's popular sporting director Roberto Reverberi will uncharacteristically look to a rare late-bloomer in Mirco Maestri to provide some added punch and maybe even outdo teammate Guardini in the sprints.
Having only started his professional career in 2015, the 27-year old Maestri has started this season majestically, having bagged the points classification in the Tirreno Adriatico, surprising many big names at the early season stage race seen as a prelude to the Giro d'Italia. It is his biggest career victory to date.
An interesting proposition comes in the form of 23-year old Alessandro Pessot, who is being blooded on the big stage this year after spending much of last season in under-23 races.
Pessot will add to his classic debut, having completed the Milan-San Remo last weekend, with a debut in LTdL, while he also did well to complete the tough Vuelta Andalucia in another debut last month.
The squad is completed with the 26-year old Paolo Simion and youngsters Michael Bresciani,24, and Daniel Savini, 21.
Le Tour de Langkawi this year welcomes national petroleum company Petronas as its title sponsor for the first time and will cover eight stages beginning with stage 1 from Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur on April 6 to Tampin, in Negri Sembilan.
The eight stages include the return of the Genting Highlands Queen stage and a return to the legendary island of Langkawi, the race's birthplace for the finish.
A total of 22 teams have confirmed participation for this edition of the race, which is organised by Human Voyage Sdn Bhd.
BARDIANI CSF RIDER LINE-UP
Michael Bresciani (Ita), Andrea Guardini (Ita), Mirco Maestri (Ita), Alessandro Pessot (Ita), Daniel Savini (Ita), Paolo Simion (Ita).
This year’s edition will start off with a challenging 176.9 km hilly route from the PETRONAS Twin Towers (KLCC) in Kuala Lumpur, to Dataran Tampin in Negeri Sembilan. The 8-stage race covers a total distance of 1,234 km, mainly on the west coast route.
The much awaited Genting climb takes place on the fourth day from Shah Alam. Langkawi will host the penultimate and final stages on 12 and 13 April respectively.
In tandem with the Tour’s “Sports Unites, Cycling Contributes” theme, the organisers are hoping that this year’s edition receives even greater response and support from spectators, masses and fans across Malaysia.
A total of 22 teams comprising outfits from the World Tour, Pro-Continental, Continental and National Teams tiers are down for action in the Tour organised by Human Voyage Sdn Bhd.
Malaysian and European fans will be able to catch the action via a 90-minute live broadcast of the race and a 30-minute daily highlights throughout the eight-day event. Overall, LTdL is looking at a coverage of over 100 counties with 310 million viewers on television and 70 million viewers through Cycling.TV.
To enhance fan experience and to encourage the community to come out and support this event, accompanying activities will be held at the finishing location of each stage throughout the race.