By Shane Stokes
With time ticking down quickly to the February 2 start of the Tour de Langkawi, details have been released of the route of the 2.HC ranked race. The twelfth edition of the prestigious Malaysian event will begin on the holiday island of Langkawi, with Stage 1 starting at Dataran Lang and concluding approximately two hours later close to Underwater World. The large 81km lap will include three intermediate sprints which will allow the speed specialists to gauge each other's form prior to the final charge for the line.
Day two takes the riders 166km from Kangar to Kulim. Once again there will be three intermediate sprints en route, this time at Padang Serai (15km), Alor Setar (49km) and Gurun (86km). The route then becomes a little more undulating from this point until the line, spicing things up.
As was the case this year, the race will finish in the high altitude Cameron Highlands on day three. Last time round, American rider Saul Raisin won here ahead of David George, the South African placing second but taking over yellow and going on to win the event.
This 133km stage from Kuala Kangsar to Brinchang begins with a flat opening 58km but, following intermediate sprints at Sungai Siput (21km), Chenor (34km) and Ipoh (52km), the riders move onto the tough 47km first category climb to the Highlands.
Once at the summit, the riders will descend 15km before the road pitches upwards once more; they will then scale an eight kilometre first category climb overlooking Brinchang, which tops out at 1,590m. From there just five kilometres remain until the steep uphill finish, guaranteeing some exciting racing as the riders battle for the stage and the race lead.
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