By Ben Abrahams
The Malaysian National Cycling Federation, organisers of Le Tour de Langkawi, have released the 21 teams that will compete in the 2007 event starting in Dataran Lang on February 2. As in previous editions, the race will feature a mix of teams from the ProTour, Pro Continental and Continental ranks, alongside a handful of national squads.
The five ProTour teams are confirmed as Bouygues Telecom, Credit Agricole, Francaise des Jeux, AG2R and Unibet.com who received confirmation of their ProTour license earlier this month. Italian registered Pro Continental team Tinkoff Credit Systems - much talked about recently after the controversial signing of American Tyler Hamilton - will make their first appearance in a major stage race although it is unlikely that Hamilton himself will be making the early season trip to Malaysia.
Among the top riders expected for the 2.HC ranked event are: defending champion David George, likely to be leading the South African national team, 1998 winner Gabriele Missaglia (Selle Italia), Sylvain Calzati (AG2R) winner of stage eight in the 2006 Tour de France, Asian Games gold medallist Wong Kam Po from Hong Kong and Ng Yong Li the first Malaysian cyclist to earn a contract in Europe with Portuguese Continental team Vitoria-ASC.
The previous two editions of the race have been dogged by financial difficulties but a government buyout earlier this year coupled with a considerable financial commitment, have secured the race's license with the UCI.
Details of next year's race route were announced last week; a number of flat stages should suit the sprinters while the general classification is likely to be decided on the savage mountain roads of Cameron and Genting Highlands - the final climbs of stages three and eight respectively.
Full team list for the 2007 Tour de Langkawi
Francaise des Jeux
Professional Continental teams:
Tinkoff Credit Systems
Selle Italia Serramenti Diquigiovanni
Hong Kong Pro Cycling Team
Giant Asia Racing Team
Discovery Channel-Marco Polo
List courtesy of Jean Francois Quenet