By Greg Johnson in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
The Tour de Langkawi's revised route has been given the thumbs up by the top teams contesting this year's event. The 2.HC race was shortened from its traditional 10 stages to just seven for 2009, with many of the long transfers being removed and the tour more centralized around the nation's capital Kuala Lumpur.
"I think it's been awesome," said Garmin-Slipstream director Johnny Weltz. "It's found its right measurement, with the length of the race. Nine, 10 days at this time of year is kind of long. Seven stages with not too many transfers – I think that's a good balance."
While Weltz had brought a team to the race previously, this year's event was Cervélo TestTeam's Marcello Albasini's first visit to the race. Albasini seemed pleased with many aspects of the race, although joked that the temperature "is a little bit crazy".
"The transfers are not a problem – we have good hotels, not far from the finish, so it is okay," he said. "Also the organization on the road, the security for the cars, it's perfect."
Despite being happy with many elements of this year's race, both directors are hopeful on one change for future events. Albasini said the race wasn't too difficult, and joined Weltz in wanting more climbs in the event.
"I think so, my team likes stages with a few more hills," said Albasini.
"Maybe one more semi-mountains stage in the first five days would be nice," added Weltz. "So all of that isn't sprint stages."
Another team manager new to Langkawi, Fuji Servetto's Alvaro Crespi, observed the race's challenging nature. Each squad has only six riders in the hope no team can control the entire race, despite Diquigiovanni-Androni's impressive domination of this year's event.
"It's not so easy," said Crespi. "It's difficult because every day there are many, many riders attacking, so to control this race is not so easy. But Diquigiovanni-Androni was very, very strong and so at the end we have made the best race we could."