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Venezuelan Jose Rujano of the ISD-Neri outfit is the pre-race favourite and will be the rider to watch on stage six to the top of Genting Highlands.
Venezuelan wonderboy wants win number one in Malaysia
ISD-Neri rider José Rujano remains the favourite for 15th edition of the Tour de Langkawi, as the 20 teams competing were presented this afternoon in Kota Bharu ahead of the opening stage on Monday.
The likes of Footon-Servetto, Italian Professional Continental squad ISD-Neri, Vorarlberg-Corratec and Australian outfit Drapac-Porsche were presented by Kelantan Mentri Besar (Regional Chief Minister for Kelantan) Nik Aziz.
The withdrawal of Footon-Servetto's Manuel Cardoso following his crash in the Volta ao Algarve was a blow for race organisers, with Rujano (pictured right) the undisputed favourite for the crown.
"I hope my team can work together to get me in the right position for the Genting climb," explained Rujano, who also said he likes the reputed ascent, having secured a third-placed finish on the mountain during the 2007 edition of the race.
It's been well-publicised that this year's race lacks the big teams and riders of previous editions but the runner up of the 2005 event admitted that he'll still have a tough battle on his hands to better his previous best result.
The Venezuelan shot to prominence during the 2005 Tour de Langkawi as the late South African rider Ryan Cox took the title by a meagre 18 seconds. While Rujano is expected to take overall honours by a larger margin this year, he's remaining focused on the task at hand.
"I've taken second before [in 2005] and I want to win it," stated the dimniuitive climber.