PUTRAJAYA : The 21st edition of Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) from February 24 to March 2 will be marked by a first ever grand finish in the historic city of Melaka, while an eight-stage race format will see teams preparing for another grueling challenge, this time on the West Coast of Peninsula Malaysia.
Minister of Youth and Sports YB Khairy Jamaluddin announced today that the 2016 race route will redefine LTdL as ‘Asia’s Ultimate Challenge’, a battleground where top 11 world class teams from Europe will compete against 11 of Asia’s best.
"Not only that, we are expecting exciting competition from all the riders. The composition of the route will test all aspects of their capabilities, it will be an open race until the very end, which will definitely keep the fans excited," said Khairy.
From the 165.5 kilometer first stage that starts in Kangar, Perlis and ends in Baling, Kedah where riders will be faced with a challenging Cat. 3 climb at Weng just 30km to the finish on February 24, followed by the 159.2km second stage that starts in Kulim and ends with the race's first visit to the Penang Island since 2004.
The peloton will enter the island through the Penang Second Bridge, Jambatan Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah and will be greeted with two grueling climbs on the island at Balik Pulau (Cat.4) and 0 to 200m gradient uphill at Teluk Bahang (Cat.3), the race will be marked by significant differences, offering significant opportunities particularly for a thrilling battle among sprinters.
For a second year running, renovation works at the summit of Genting Highlands will mean the race will not feature its famous queen stage again and this time the similarly grueling climb up Cameron Highlands will play its part as the decisive stage that can determine the overall winner.
After a short 107km Stage Three from Kuala Kangsar to Tapah on February 26, the following day will be where the protagonists for the overall title will surface in the 129.4km Stage Four from Dataran MBI in Ipoh to Tanah Rata in Cameron Highlands.
From Stage Five, which covers 149.9km from Tapah to the previous traditional grand finish Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur, it will be a matter of how well the yellow jersey holder from the finish in Cameron Highlands controls the race as it is set for an epic battle for the points classification with the sprinters having four more stages clear of massive climbs to do battle.
The 147.6km Stage Six will pay homage to the main sponsors of the race - the Youth and Sports Ministry of Malaysia - with a start at Wisma KBS in Putrajaya and a finish in Rembau, Negri Sembilan, the hometown and constituency of Youth and Sports Minister YB Khairy Jamaluddin. This stage will feature a run through popular cycling routes and four short but tricky climbs in Broga, Lenggeng, Bukit Putus and Bukit Miku.
Then, the penultimate stage will feature the longest route of this year's LTdL, covering 203.2km from Seremban to Parit Sulong, offering an unpredictable situation with tiring legs mixed among those still hungry to make a difference in the standings.
The final day of the race sees a start in Batu Pahat, Johor, covering 119.9km with three 8.3km loops along major attractions and through the narrow roads of the world famous Jonker Street before the finish in Dataran Pahlawan, Melaka.
LTdL 2016 chief executive officer Emir Abdul Jalal said with the profile of the race set this way, teams will likely line up with some climbers set for the battle for the overall title in Cameron Highlands, while many are expected to come prepared for battles in the flat finishes, which will offer spectators the unbeatable spectacle of bunch sprints.
"We can expect it to be a race for the spectators at the finish lines to enjoy. We can already visualize the peloton hitting top speed on a number of occasions," said Emir.
“Besides the route, we aim to re-position LTdL back to the top level of organization, the "excellent level of organisation" certificate was attained from 2010 to 2014 acknowledged by the International Cycling Union (UCI). “
“In terms of promotion, we will continue our collaboration with sports channel Eurosports. 8 hour Highlights of the race will be broadcasted in Eurosports Asia Pacific and 80 minutes in Eurosport 1, Eurosports 2 to over 100 countries at an estimation of 500 million viewers. Also with Internet TV site Cycling TV that has over a million subscribers worldwide.
Also present in the launching were Ministry of Youth and Sports Secretary General Datuk Jamil Bin Salleh, National Sports Council Director General Datuk Ahmad Shapawi Ismail, Ministry of Defence Chief of Defence Forces Jeneral Tan Sri Zulkifeli Mohd Zin, Royal Malaysia Police Federal Traffic Chief YDH Tuan SAC Mohd Akhir Darus, Malaysian National Cycling Federation president Datuk Haji Abu Samah Abdul Wahab, state officials and tour sponsors.