Kuala Lumpur – After three months of preparations, Sapura Cycling Team will be ready for the 24th edition of Le Tour de Langkawi which will be contested from 6th April to 13th April.
Team manager Sayuti Zahit said the team’s focus will be on the ultimate target of the yellow jersey, apart from the Asian riders’ jersey through three promising young riders lined up for the eight-stage tour which will begin in Kuala Lumpur and end in Langkawi, covering a total distance of 1,226.1km.
Sayuti stated that the fourth stage from Shah Alam to Genting Highlands will be the most important stage and Sapura’s strategy will be built around that stage in their third appearance in the race, touted as Asia’s biggest race.
Three local riders Muhamad Zawawi Azman, Muhamad Nur Aiman Zariff and Akmal Hakim Zakaria, along with foreign riders Benjamin Dyball and Jesse Ewart of Australia and Moldovan Cristian Relianue will be carrying Sapura’s challenge in the race.
Dyball will be their best bet for the overall title challenge as the former St George Continental Team rider has both the experience and the track record to do well in this race, having finished second behind eventual overall winner Artem Ovechkin of TSG in the Cameron Highlands stage last year, when he also finished third overall behind Ovechkin and Lukasz Owsian of CCC Sprandi Polkowice.
Dyball is also no stranger to the Asian cycling scene, having bagged overall victories in the International Tour de Banyuwangi, Ijen, and the Princess Maha Siridhorn Cup Tour of Thailand, along with second-place finishes in the Tour of Fuzhou and Tour of Taihu Lake.
He will also be loaded with confidence coming into the race, fresh from his double victory in the road race and individual time trial at the Oceania Cycling Championships two weeks ago before he finished third overall in the Tour of Tochigi in Japan last week.
Dyball’s quest for the yellow jersey will be assisted by Ewart, 31, who is building up his season well after finishing 12th in the Tour of Taiwan earlier this month and 24th in the Herald Sun Tour in January.
Sapura’s new signing is Raileanu, who made an impression with the Torku Sekerspor team last year when he won the yellow jersey in the Tour of Cartier and emerged the national champion of Moldova, along with second-place finishes in the Tour of Antalya and Tour of Mesopotamia.
The three youngsters Zawawi, Aiman and Akmal have been given sufficient exposure in the Herald Sun Tour, Tour of Taiwan and the Tour of Tochigi in preparation for LTdL.
Riders to compete at LTdL 2019
- Muhamad Zawawi Azman (MAS)
- Muhamad Nur Aiman Zariff (MAS)
- Akmal Hakim Zakaria (MAS)
- Benjamin Dyball (AUS)
- Jesse Ewart (AUS)
- Cristian Raileanu (MDV)