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Start of the Tour de Langkawi approaches

With the enchanting sounds of the "Call for Prayer" rising from the ornate Blue Mosque, festivities surrounding the 10-day Tour de Langkawi got underway in Shah Alam, Malaysia on Wednesday. By now all of the 22 teams competing in the UCI 2.3 race have arrived in this mostly-Muslim nation of 21.4 million in Southeast Asia. Adapting to the climate will be the riders' primary focus leading up to the start of the race on February 1. Malaysia lies just north of the equator, meaning riders can expect daytime temperatures in the mid-80s with 90 percent humidity. Beating the heat will be well worth

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By Jason Sumner, VeloNews Associate Editor

At 462 feet, the four minarets of the Blue Mosque are the tallest in the world. It can hold up to 24,000 worsh ...

At 462 feet, the four minarets of the Blue Mosque are the tallest in the world. It can hold up to 24,000 worsh …

Photo: Jason Sumner

With the enchanting sounds of the “Call for Prayer” rising from the ornate Blue Mosque, festivities surrounding the 10-day Tour de Langkawi got underway in Shah Alam, Malaysia on Wednesday.

By now all of the 22 teams competing in the UCI 2.3 race have arrived in this mostly-Muslim nation of 21.4 million in Southeast Asia. Adapting to the climate will be the riders’ primary focus leading up to the start of the race on February 1. Malaysia lies just north of the equator, meaning riders can expect daytime temperatures in the mid-80s with 90 percent humidity.

Beating the heat will be well worth it, though. The Tour de Langkawi boasts one of the richest prize lists in the world, with $400,000 up for grabs. The 1310-kilometer race, which has been shortened by two days, starts with a rolling 20.3km individual time trial in the town of Putrajaya, then heads north up the country’s western coast, leading to the 176km run Tapah to Bentong, which includes a Cat. 1 climb.

Stage 5 heads south down the center of the country, with Stage 6 ending at the country’s southern tip near the border with Singapore. Stages 7 and 8 take riders back towards Malaysia’s biggest city, Kuala Lumpur, leading to what will likely be the deciding day, the Stage 9 trip from Kuala Lumpur to the Genting Highlands, which includes a 25km climb that rises 1600 meters. Racing concludes with a 12-lap criterium on a 6.3km circuit back in Kuala Lumpur.

Members of the Lotto-Adecco team pose for the press.

Members of the Lotto-Adecco team pose for the press.

Photo: Jason Sumner

Pre-race notes
— For the first time in several years there will not be an American team competing in Malaysia. Saturn and Mercury have been regular participants in the past, but Saturn declined an invitation this year, likely a result of the September 11 terrorist attacks, while Mercury was not invited because of the uncertainty surrounding the team. North America will not be without representation, though. There are eight Canadians competing, including the seven-member national team, with mountain bikers Ryder Hesjedal and Geoff Kabush, plus Saturn rider Eric Wohlberg.

— The race will be shown live on Malaysian television for the first time in its seven-year history. Using three helicopters and two live-trucks, RTM, Malaysia’s government-run TV station, will air the final hour of the race each day. OLN’s Paul Sherwin is here to do commentary

— Race officials are trying to get the event’s rating upped to 2.2 for next year, and will be receiving a visit from a member of the UCI’s upgrade committee during the event.

— Using technology first unveiled at the 2001 Vuelta a Espana, the race will be using a timing system where computer chips attached to the forks of rider’s bikes will provide real-time information throughout the race.

— Among the topics discussed at the opening press conference was media’s use — and abuse — of complimentary cars. A race official said that there were 32 accidents during last year’s race, and that Malaysian police issued at least 100 traffic tickets, most of them to members of the press.

Check back to VeloNews.com for daily race reports, photos and results.

Past winners
2001 — Paolo Lanfranchi (I) Mapei
2000 — Chris Horner (USA) Mercury
1999 — Paolo Lanfranchi (I) Mapei
1998 — Gabriele Missaglia (I) Mapei
1997 — Luca Scinto (I) MG-Technogym
1996 — Damian McDonald (Aus) Giant-AIS

Provisional start list
Index Alexia
1 Paolo Lanfranchi (I)
2 Marco Battiston (I)
3 Alberto Elli (I)
4 Daniele Galli (I)
5 Antonio Salomone (I)
6 Eddy Serri (I)
7 Andris Reiss (Lat)

Mapei-Quick Step
11 Andrea Tafi (I)
12 Davide Bramati (I)
14 Paolo Fornaciari (I)
15 Robert Hunter (SA)
16 Charles Wegelius (GB)
17 Luca Scinto (I)
18 David Canada Garcia (Sp)

Credit Agricole
21 Jens Voigt (G)
22 Johan Charpenteau (F)
23 Christophe Le Mevel (F)
24 Ludovic Martin (F)
25 Benoit Poilvet (F)
26 Yan Tournier (F)
27 Cedric Herve (F)

Acqua & Sapone – Cantina Tollo
31 Kyrylo Pospyeyev (Ukr)
32 Claudio Astolfi (I)
33 Michele Scarponi (I)
34 Ruben Lobato Elvira (Sp)
35 Agustin Pena Gago (Sp)
36 Cesare Di Cintio (I)
37 Lorenzo Cardellini (I)

ag2r Prevoyance
41 Linas Balciunas (Lit)
42 Laurent Estadieu (F)
43 Andy Flickinger (F)
44 Alexandre Grux (F)
45 Nicolas Inaudi (F)
46 Innar Mandoja (Est)
47 Nicolas Portal (F)

Ceramiche Panaria-Fiordo
51 Nathan O’Neill (Aus)
52 Nicola Chesini (I)
53 Enrico Degano (I)
54 Stefano Guerrini (I)
55 Sergey Matveyev (Ukr)
56 Graeme Brown (Aus)
57 Cristiano Parrinello (I)

Lotto-Adecco
61 Mario Aerts (B)
62 Frederik Amorison (B)
63 Tom Stremersch (B)
64 Kevin Van Impe (B)
65 Fulco Van Gulik (Nl)
66 Stive Vermaut (B)
67 Wesley Van Speybroeck (B)

Telekom Malaysia
71 Graeme Miller (NZl)
72 Kam Po Wong (Hgk)
73 Kader Mizbani (Irn)
74 Ahad Kazemi (Irn)
75 Susanto Tonton (Ina)
76 Musairi Musa (Mas )
77 Rosli Nor Effendy (Mas)

Collstrop Palmans
81 Max Becker (Lux)
82 Tony Bracke (B)
83 Eric De Clercq (B)
84 Hans De Meester (B)
85 Bjorn Leukemans (B)
86 Karel Pauwels (B)
87 Hendrik Van Dijck (B)

Mobilvetta-Formaggi Trentini
91 Mario Traversoni (I)
92 Moreno Di Biase (I)
93 Filipe La Verde (Col)
94 Samuele Vecchi (I)
95 Orlando Mesa Meza (Col)
96 Uros Murn (Slo)
97 Denis Bondarenko (Rus)

Colchon Relax-Fuenlabrada
101 Jorge Capitan (Sp)
102 David Fernandez (Sp)
103 Cesar Garcia Calvo (Sp)
104 Oscar Laguna (Sp)
105 German Nieto (Sp)
106 David Vazquez Garcia (Sp)
107 Jose Manuel Vazquez Palomo (Sp)

Team Fakta
111 Lennie Kristensen (Den)
112 Morten Sonne (Den)
113 Bjorner Vestol (Nor)
114 Rene Jorgensen (Den)
115 Jorgen Bo Petersen (Den)
116 Lars Bak (Den)
117 Allan Bo Andresen (Den)

Team Bonjour
121 Anthony Charteau (F)
122 Anthony Geslin (F)
123 Charles Guilbert (F)
124 Jimmy Engoulevent (F)
125 Mickael Pichon (F)
126 Jerome Pineau (F)
127 Thomas Voeckler (F)

Malaysia
131 Razali Shahrulneeza (Mas)
132 Tsen Seong Hong (Mas)
133 Mohd. Mahazir Hamad (Mas)
134 Jasmin Roslan (Mas)
135 Mohd. Azlan Jamaluddin (Mas)
136 Wong Ah Thiam (Mas)
137 Suhardi Hassan (Mas)

Colombia-Selle Italia
141 Hernan Dario Munoz (Col)
142 Juan Diego Ramirez (Col)
143 Fortunato Baliani (I)
144 Nauduzs/Andris (Lat)
145 Leonardo Scarselli (I)
146 Mykhaylo Khalilov (Ukr)
147 Ruber Marin (Col)

Team Nurnberger Versicherling
151 Artour Babaitsev (Rus)
152 Ronny Lauke (G)
153 Jurgen Pauritsch (A)
154 Dirk Schumann (G)
155 Holger Sievers (G)
156 Lubor Tesar (Cze)
157 Jurgen Werner (G)

iTeamNOVA.com
161 Jamie Drew (Aus)
162 Russell Downing (GB)
163 Scott Guyton (NZl)
164 Dominique Perras (Can)
165 Brett Lancaster (Aus)
166 Trent Wilson (Aus)
167 Alan Iacoune (Aus) South Africa
171 Douglas Ryder (SA)
172 David George (SA)
173 Rodney Green (SA)
174 Daniel Spence (SA)
175 Jacques Fullard (SA)
176 James Ball (SA)
177 Jeremy Maartins (SA) Philippines
181 Victor Espiritu (Phi)
182 Warren Davadilla (Phi)
183 Arnel Quirimit (Phi)
184 Enrique Domingo (Phi)
185 Merculto Ramos (Phi)
186 Villamor Baluyott (Phi)
187 Emilito Atilano (Phi)

Japan
191 Mitsuteru Tanaka (Jpn)
192 Kazuya Okazaki (Jpn)
193 Tomoya Kano (Jpn)
194 Makoto Iijima (Jpn)
195 Shinri Suzuki (Jpn)
196 Shinich Fukushima (Jpn)
197 Koji Fukushima (Jpn)

Canada
201 Glen Rendell (Can)
202 Mark Ernsting (Can)
203 Andrew Pinfold (Can)
204 Geoff Kabush (Can)
205 Josh Hall (Can)
206 Eric Wohlberg (Can)
207 Ryder Hesjedal (Can)

China
211 Yajun Ma (Chn)
212 Guo Hui (Chn)
213 Guozhang Wang (Chn)
214 Shuhai Song (Chn)
215 Hongwei Li (Chn)
216 Yongbiao Zhu (Chn)
217 Xueli Jiang (Chn)

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