By Jean-François Quénet in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Australian cyclist Bernard Sulzberger thought his cycling career was going nowhere when the Pro Continental team Pedaltech he was contracted to folded three weeks ago. But on Saturday, while riding the Tour of Wellington in New Zealand, he received a phone call offering him to join the Malaysian continental team LeTua.
By Tuesday morning Sulzberger was already training nearby Kuala Lumpur with his new team-mates Anuar Manan, Sayuti Zahit and Ahmad Haidar Anuwar who have claimed most of the titles including the overall victory with their Indonesian partners Tonton Susanto and Ryan Ariehaan at the 2.2 Jelajah Malaysia last month.
"It's a great opportunity for me to join this team for Le Tour de Langkawi," the 24-year-old Tasmanian said during a launch at the National Press Club of Malaysia. "My role will be to assist the team in the lead out for Anuar Manan, who I have seen is a powerful sprinter."
Shukor Yassin, the team manager of LeTua, was very enthusiastic to welcome his first "mat salleh" [white man in Bahasa Malaysia] rider who was also the King of the Mountains at the Herald Sun Tour in October last year. "We needed that strength," he said. "Bernard is probably that missing link we require to give the best European sprinters' teams a run for their money."
Therefore, there will be two Sulzbergers on the start line in Alor Setar on Saturday, with Bernard's younger brother Wesley also in the picture with Southaustralia.com-AIS. Australia will be the country with the highest number of participants in Le Tour de Langkawi, which runs from February 9-17, starting with no fewer than 18 riders.