Malaysia's sprinting ace Anuar Manan will join new Korean Continental team Geumsan Ginseng, led by Japanese veteran Shinichi Fukushima. It's an exciting development for one of the country's best cycling exports, who has enjoyed limited opportunities to shine in recent years.
Speaking to Cyclingnews in Vientiane, Laos, during the Sea Games, Manan explained: "I spent the 2009 season with Iranian team Azad University. It was a good team but I didn't have enough opportunities to race since it's very difficult for Iranians to get visas for travelling. Sometimes I was the only team member allowed to enter the country where we were supposed to race.
"With Geumsan Ginseng and the presence of Fukushima as a team captain, I'm confident that I'll be able to have a more solid program in 2010," continued Manan, who has spent six weeks in Melbourne training for the Sea Games under Malaysia's Australian track coach John Beasley.
"I also learned from the 2009 season that I can only perform at stage races with a trade team," he added. "I didn't do well at Le Tour de Langkawi with the national team but I won two stages at the Jelajah Malaysia with Azad. That's why I truly hope that I'll be able to ride Le Tour de Langkawi with Geumsan Ginseng."
For many years the Malaysian national team garnered increasing press coverage due more to controversy than results. Only the Melbourne-based track program has proven to be successful in a recent times. "Trade teams from other Asian countries are the key for us, Malaysians, to perform," said the 23-year-old who came close to winning a stage [he finished second] at the 2008 Le Tour de Langkawi with LeTua and was therefore scouted by some European and American teams.
In addition to Manan's signature, Geumsan Ginseng also welcomed the sponsorship of Specialized last week. "We've been chosen by Specialized for being the only Asian professional team to be supplied the latest SL3," announced the team's business manager Danny Feng.
Geumsan Ginseng's 2010 roster: Shinichi Fukushima, Motoi Nara and Takeshi Garashi (Japan), Low Ji Wen (Singapore), Phuchong Saiudomsil (Thailand), Anuar Manan (Malaysia), Hwang In Hyeok, Kim Yeong Uk, Kwon Junoh, Choe Hyeong, Kim Jong Kwang, You Ki Hong, Km Ding Young, Lee Sang Gyu (Korea).