As another edition of the Tour de Langkawi approaches, Androni-Diquigiovanni manager Gianni Savio has explained his team's absence from this year's race, citing the event's date change as the primary reason.
The UCI 2.HC-ranked Malaysian race will clash with Tirreno-Adriatico, the Italian stage race season opener where Savio will be taking a team. He has been a mainstay of the Tour de Langkawi during the past decade, enjoying success on the general classification and in sprints with the likes of José Serpa, Alberto Loddo and José Rujano.
"The problem is that the new organisation has changed the race date which is usually held in February in the past to March 1-7, which is just two days before the Tirreno-Adriatico, the most important race in Italy after the Giro d'Italia. It's a world calendar race that we won last year with our leader Michele Scarponi," said Savio in a statement.
"I am really sorry that the team will not to be able to participate in Le Tour de Langkawi because I like Malaysia very much and Le Tour de Langkawi has always been good to our team where we had always been a protagonist in the past," he added.
"Last year, we established another record by winning the individual general classification through Josè Serpa, the overall team classification, the king of mountains, also with Serpa, and the points classification with Mattia Gavazzi. We also won five stages," said Savio.
The year has been successful for Savio thus far, enjoying four stage wins at last month's Tour de San Luis; the experienced Italian manager hopes to carry that momentum into an event on home turf, where, as he said, the team comes into this year's edition with the defending champion.
"Last month, I came back from Argentina where we won four stages in the Tour de San Luis - two with Alberto Loddo, one with Jackson Rodriguez and one with Luis Mate. We also won the overall team classification and the second place with Josè Serpa in the individual general classification which was won by Vincenzo Nibali.
"So we have begun the new season very well. It is always my philosophy to participate in any race that we take part in with the best team so as to honour the race. I hope that next year Le Tour de Langkawi will return to its original date in February."
The 15th edition of the Tour de Langkawi will take place from March 1-7, covering a total distance of 1019.3km, with 120 riders from 20 teams participating.