Theo Bos and nine-time stage winner Graeme Brown will lead Blanco Pro Cycling at Le Tour de Langkawi when the race kicks-off on Thursday 21 February. The 10-day race will be Brown's second major race of the year after opening his season in Australia at the Santos Tour Down Under. Meanwhile, Bos will begin his season in Spain at Trofeo Mallorca in the first week of February.
Blanco is sending a team targeted at winning stages. With the highly selective mountain-top finish at the Genting Highlands the team will instead focus on developing the lead-outs for Bos before heading back to Europe.
"I see Le Tour de Langkawi as a good opportunity to get our sprint train on track", said Bos. "Doing sprints, getting experience, learning from mistakes…This race will be perfect because there are a lot of sprint stages."
Brown has a long history at the 2.HC category race after holding the record for the most stage wins, only to be eclipsed by the new star of Langkawi's sprints, Andrea Guardini (Astana). Brown won nine stages from 2002-2005 before Guardini went about winning 11 stages from just two editions. Brown will be responsible for placing Bos in the best position to get his season going with a winning start.
Bos will have his work cut out for him when he makes his first appearance at Langkawi. The 11-time stage winner Guardini will arrive with his new Astana team and will no doubt push the former track world champion to give his best.
"We'll be in Malaysia firstly for getting the new team together", explained Bos. "This is a new start for the former Rabobank. There are some new influences in the team, new staff members, new sports directors…, other ideas. The team focus on sprints is getting bigger and bigger. I really enjoy that. I hope it will bear fruit!
Bos experienced one of his best seasons on the road in 2012 with seven victories and most recently explained his goals to Cyclingnews for the coming year. The 29-year-old is seeking to get as many victories notched up in the early part of the season and while grand tour success is the ultimate goal, it will not be his sole focus.
"Going to Le Tour de Langkawi, it's a goal to come home with at least a win in our pockets. I really don't know what to expect about the country. It'll be my first visit, except from my stopovers at Kuala Lumpur airport (KLIA)."
Bos and Brown will be joined by four other Dutchmen with Jetse Bol, Tom Leezer, Marc Goos and Jos van Emden (Ned) travelling to Langkawi for the 1,467.9km tour.