By Anthony Tan in Kuala Lumpur
In managing director Imran Abdullah's (a.k.a. Simon Donnellan) opening address to all involved with the 2006 edition of the Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL), he begins by saying: "2005 saw much changed in the global structure of professional cycling and presented a number of key challenges to us as race organisers. In response, we have adapted our operations and taken many positive steps to improve our efficiency and ensure a long term future for the TM Le Tour de Langkawi."
The first statement is certainly true; the advent of the ProTour appears to have raised the level of events such as the Deutschland Tour (Tour of Germany), Criterium du Dauphiné Libéré and Giro d'Italia to another level. But equally, the creation of five Continental circuits and the introduction of Pro Continental and Continental teams resulted in a few negative repercussions.
With no ProTour points up for grabs at races like the LTdL, a number of race organisers have begun to refocus their objectives. "This race previously has put great emphasis on the European contingent; I personally want to maintain that, but also give some balance to the Asian teams as well," Abdullah told Cyclingnews in December last year. It was also during this time the race was having a few problems of its own, which thankfully have now been dealt with.