By Shane Stokes, Irishcycling.com
Cycling Ireland has named the seven riders who will take part in this month’s Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia. FBD Milk Rás winner David McCann and Paul Griffin will return from last year’s squad, while Paul Healion’s strong showing in the recent Herald Sun Tour has earned him the nod.
Stephen Gallagher will prepare for his second season with the Flanders Afincom team by riding the race. The squad is completed by three promising young riders, namely Paídi O’Brien, Sean Lacey and the new Irish cyclo-cross champion Roger Aiken.
The tenth edition of the Malaysian Tour will begin on the island of Langkawi on January 28. The race will pass through nine states and cover a total distance of 1281.1 kilometres, with summit finishes at Tanah Merah and Genting Highlands. This year’s route will feature a number of new towns including Kepala Batas, Bachok, Kuala Berang and Maran, and will conclude on February 6 with the now-customary Kuala Lumpur criterium.
Now ranked as a 2.HC event, the Tour de Langkawi boasts its strongest ever lineup this year. A number of top professional squads including Discovery Channel, Liberty Seguros, Crédit Agricole, Colombia-Selle Italia, Navigators Insurance and Ceramiche Panaria-Navigare have already been confirmed, with more teams to be announced shortly.
The Team Ireland squad ensured their participation through a strong performance twelve months ago. David McCann was best finisher in 14th place, with Philip Deignan 16th. The ride helped Deignan secure a pro contract for the 2005 and 2006 seasons with Mark Scanlon’s Ag2R Prevoyance team.