Not wanting to put their riders under unnecessary pressure, Terengganu Inc. TSG Cycling Team (TSG) has set themselves a modest target despite entering the fray with favorites’ tag on their backs in the upcoming Le Tour de Langkawi.
The Malaysian continental outfit will be under close scrutiny in Malaysia’s premier multi-stage race following their exploit in last year’s edition which saw Artem Ovechkin clinching the Tour’s yellow jersey.
This year’s 24th edition starts off on April 6 in Kuala Lumpur and ends in Langkawi on April 13. The 8-stage race which covers a total of 1,250km on the west coast route will see teams from the WorldTour, Pro-Continental, Continental and national outfits vying for honors.
It was a great feat for TSG last year following historical achievement of becoming the first Asian team to win the overall individual title in the Tour’s 23-year history. With Genting Highlands back in the picture, TSG is banking on their seasoned climbers to be in top shape to deliver the results. The team is looking at former Mitchelton BikeExchange rider Drew Morey to form a formidable force with Ovechkin in the mountains.
2015 winner Youcef Reguigui, the former MTN-Qhubeka rider who came in third overall in the recent African Continental Championships, is also in strong contention to excel in the race. Finishing fourth in the recent Tour of Gabon, Reguigui will be flying in with sufficient mileage in his legs to mount a strong challenge for the top honors.
Apart from the mountains, Mohd Zamri Salleh, the leader, is expected to be among the force in sprint challenges with Mohd Hariff Saleh recognized as among the top sprinters in the peloton. TSG Chief Operating Officer, Nasiruddin Wan Idrus said with the inclusion of Genting, the team is not putting unnecessary pressures on the riders and has set a modest target of a top-five finish in the general classification and two podium finishes.
Ovechkin, who hails from Berdsk, Russia, is said to be in top shape, coming in straight from three major Asia Tour races, Rondas Pilipina in the Philippines, Tour of Antalya and the Tour de Taiwan last week. Morey, formerly with Michelton-BikeExchange, meanwhile, was fourth overall in the Oceania Road Race championships.
TSG is currently second on the UCI Asia Tour ranking list, 32 points behind another Malaysian continental outfit Team Sapura Cycling who are at the top of the table with 1222 points. A total of 22 teams will see action in the 8-stage Le Tour de Langkawi 2019.
The race starts off in the heart of Kuala Lumpur from the Petronas Twin Tower to Tampin while the much awaited Genting challenge takes place on the fourth day from Shah Alam. Langkawi will host the penultimate and final stage will 12 and 13 April.
TSG Riders to compete in LTdL 2019
- Mohd Harif Saleh (MAS)
- Mohd Zamri Saleh (MAS)
- Nur Amirul Fakhruddin Marzuki (MAS)
- Artem Ovechkin (RUS)
- Drew Morey (AUS)
- Youcef Reguigui (ALG)