The National Teams of Uzbekistan, China and Doha were invited to participate in the 2009 Tour de Langkawi, February 9 to 15. The organiser announced its decision today.
"This time around we invited the best teams not simply to fulfil the quota but to have a more challenging cycling tour," said race executive chairman, Tuan Haji Abu Samah.
It will be the first time for the Uzbekistan and Doha national teams to compete in the event. Next year will mark the 14th year of the hors catégorie stage race, which was won in 2008 by Team Diquigiovanni's Ruslan Ivanov.
Abu Samah pointed to the performance of the Uzbekistan and Doha teams in the Governor Cup's Cycling Championship of Melaka and the Tour of Negeri Sembilan this year as an indication of their value.
"These two teams have the capability to compete and challenge other Asian riders or even the ProTour's riders. ... We hope that their participation this time around will entice and attract more cycling enthusiasts locally and abroad to follow the tour," he said.
Team Doha is expected to line up its best riders, such as Abdelbaset Hannachi, Omar Hasanin, Khaleel Abduljanan and Afif Abdullah. Uzbekistan will likely bring Sergey Lagutin, Vadim Shaekhov, Temur Mukhamedov, Azamat Turaev, Yaroslav Malakhov and Ruslan Karimov.
The Tour de Langkawi will consist of 20 teams of six riders. Abu Samah explained that nine teams will be selected from the ProTour and Professional Continental circuits.
The 2009 is organised by Kementerian Belia dan Sukan (KBS) along with Malaysia National Cycling Federation. The seven-stage race parcours will be announced soon.