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Julián Arredondo (Team Nippo – De Rosa) celebrates after his victory in the Tour de Langkawi
Organization announces list of 22 teams but keeps spots open for more World Tour teams
Le Tour de Langkawi has announced 22 teams for its 2014 edition, including five WorldTour teams. Team Belkin, Orica-Greenedge and Astana will return to Malaysia, while Tinkoff-Saxo and Katusha make their debut in the ten-day 2.HC event. Four Pro Continental teams, eight Continental teams and three national teams will also line up for the 19th edition of the race.
The organization is keeping two further places open for WorldTour teams. “We have two more spots available for ProTeams,” COO Emir Abdul Jalal revealed. "We’re trying hard to get two more of the world’s best teams. Compared to last year, we’ve lost the participation of Garmin-Sharp and Omega Pharma-Quick Step. They’ve told us they were happy with their experience and they like our race very much but this time around, it could simply not fit into their schedule."
The most likely candidate for one of these spots is Argos-Shimano. The team has just signed Sea Keong Loh, the first Malaysian rider in the World Tour. The 27-year old rider won Jelajah Malaysia, the other big Malaysian stage race, this year and will doubtless be eager to show his new colors to his home crowd.
"Le Tour de Langkawi is not confirmed yet," an Argos-Shmano team representative told Cyclingnews. "Our sports directors are now compiling the optimal race programmes for next year. This race is optional but not confirmed yet."
Androni-Giocattoli, UnitedHealthcare, MTN-Qubeka and Colombia are the four Pro Continental teams invited to come to Malaysia. “We could get more European teams as many of them are willing to come to Malaysia,” Abdul Jalal said. “But we also feel that it is our duty as Asian organizers to give the riders of our continent a chance to perform at the highest level.”
With the disbandment of Champion System, there are no Asian Pro Continental teams left, but the organization has invited eight Continental teams from Asia, as well as the national teams of Hong Kong, Malaysia and Indonesia to the race.
The 2013 edition was won by Julian Arredondo who laid the foundations for his overall victory in the Asia Tour this year in Malaysia. Arredondo will most likely not defend his title as his new team, Trek Factory Racing, is not on the roster.
Multiple stage winner Bryan Coquard has already announced he would not come to Langkawi again. The young Frenchman starts his season in the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman. Furthermore Team Europcar was not invited to the event. The same goes for multiple stage winner Franceso Chicchi and his Yellow Fluo team.
Le Tour de Langkawi starts on the February 27 in Porto Malai, on Langkawi island and finishes on the March 8 in Kuala Terengganu.