By Jean-François Quénet
Cycling at two different levels definitely exists; while a continental team in France is not granted UCI status unless it proves to have at least a one million Euro budget, two full-time, qualified coaches and riders with declared salaries and insurances, cycling in Asia is not at quite the same level. In fact it's at the opposite end of the scale, but that fact hasn't stopped Malaysia's LeTua team from delivering international results.
After a strong showing in the Jelajah Malaysia last month, and heading into February's Le Tour de Langkawi, the outfit has appealed to those in the industry to come onboard and assist with its efforts to promote and grow talented athletes from its region.
While some teams it will oppose in Langkawi are supplied more than 100 bikes per year, LeTua doesn't even have a sponsor for its bikes. Riders use their personal bikes. "We, the members of LeTua, also buy one bike each for our riders," team manager Shukor Yassin said. "It would be nice if we could all ride the same bikes and also wear the same helmets."
LeTua was clearly the most popular team at last week's Jelajah Malaysia, with hundreds of LeTua fans wearing the team's T-shirts and cheering for the riders for seven days. Not only did LeTua rider Tonton Susanto win the overall classification and Anuar Manan the points competition, but Manan also claimed three stage wins out of seven. "But we are only a group of cycling enthusiasts," Yassin told said.
The team recently joined forces with the car racing outfit Meritus, with the aim of getting a better support.
Anybody from the cycling industry interested in joining forces with the Malaysian squad should contact email@example.com, where the e-mail will be passed on to the right people.