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Gallery: Riders prepare for Le Tour de Langkawi

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The Tour de Langkawi team presentation

The Tour de Langkawi team presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The MTN-Qhubeka taem has high hopes for the Tour de Langkawi

The MTN-Qhubeka taem has high hopes for the Tour de Langkawi
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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 John Lee Augustyn rejoins the pro ranks with MTN - Qhubeka at Tour de Langkawi

John Lee Augustyn rejoins the pro ranks with MTN - Qhubeka at Tour de Langkawi
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Belkin's Bianchi Oltres are ready.

Belkin's Bianchi Oltres are ready.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Pawel Poljanski (Tinkoff - Saxo) dials in his bike

Pawel Poljanski (Tinkoff - Saxo) dials in his bike
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Alexsandr Dyachenko (Astana)

Alexsandr Dyachenko (Astana)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Johan Esteban Chaves (Orica - GreenEDGE)

Johan Esteban Chaves (Orica - GreenEDGE)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Juan Pablo Valencia (Colombia)

Juan Pablo Valencia (Colombia)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Carlos Julian Quintero (Colombia)

Carlos Julian Quintero (Colombia)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tinkoff-Saxo riders wait for their bikes

Tinkoff-Saxo riders wait for their bikes
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tinkoff Saxo's bike bags arrived.

Tinkoff Saxo's bike bags arrived.
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Merhawi Kudus, Tsgabu Grmay and Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka)

Merhawi Kudus, Tsgabu Grmay and Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Ethiopian champion Tsgabu Grmay and Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka)

Ethiopian champion Tsgabu Grmay and Louis Meintjes (MTN-Qhubeka)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Francesco Chicchi (Yellow Fluo) at Tour de Langkawi

Francesco Chicchi (Yellow Fluo) at Tour de Langkawi
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Tinkoff-Saxo riders await their training session

Tinkoff-Saxo riders await their training session
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Merhawi Kudus is MTN-Qhubeka's hot new climber from Eritrea

Merhawi Kudus is MTN-Qhubeka's hot new climber from Eritrea
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Francesco Chicchi (Yellow Fluo)

Francesco Chicchi (Yellow Fluo)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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Pawel Poljanski (Tinkoff - Saxo) gets his bike adjusted

Pawel Poljanski (Tinkoff - Saxo) gets his bike adjusted
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)
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The Katusha team marches to the Tour de Langkawi team presentation

The Katusha team marches to the Tour de Langkawi team presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Katusha at the Tour de Langkawi presentation

Katusha at the Tour de Langkawi presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Tinkoff Saxo at the Tour de Langkawi

Tinkoff Saxo at the Tour de Langkawi
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Tinkoff-Saxo riders head in

Tinkoff-Saxo riders head in
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Tinkoff-Saxo on the stage at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation

Tinkoff-Saxo on the stage at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Katusha at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation

Katusha at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Some local color for the Tour de Langkawi team presentation

Some local color for the Tour de Langkawi team presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Orica-GreenEdge at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation

Orica-GreenEdge at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Team Colombia at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation

Team Colombia at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Fireworks signal the start of the Tour de Langkawi

Fireworks signal the start of the Tour de Langkawi
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The Astana team for the Tour de Langkawi team presentation

The Astana team for the Tour de Langkawi team presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Team Europcar introduced at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation

Team Europcar introduced at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Belkin lines up for the Tour de Langkawi team presentation

Belkin lines up for the Tour de Langkawi team presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The Terengganu team at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation

The Terengganu team at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Androni Giocattoli at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation

Androni Giocattoli at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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UnitedHealthcare at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation

UnitedHealthcare at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Aisan Racing Team at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation

Aisan Racing Team at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The Tour de Langkawi team presentation

The Tour de Langkawi team presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Tinoff-Saxo arrives at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation

Tinoff-Saxo arrives at the Tour de Langkawi team presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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The Tour de Langkawi team presentation

The Tour de Langkawi team presentation
(Image credit: Tim de Waele/TDWSport.com)
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Omar Bertazzo (Androni Giocattoli)

Omar Bertazzo (Androni Giocattoli)
(Image credit: Bettini Photo)

Both riders and their bikes are ready for the 19th edition of Le Tour de Langkawi, and as the race motto goes, the heat was indeed back - both literally and figuratively.

A strong field assembled for the team presentation on the tiny island off of the Malaysian west coast in steamy conditions, with the "hot favorite", Pieter Weening (Orica-GreenEdge), looking to move up from his second place finish in last year's race, but is unsure of his current state of form.

“Last year it was my first time in Malaysia and I came second in Le Tour de Langkawi. I hope to do better this year! For many of the Europeans, it’s the first race of the year. I don’t know how good my shape is. In my preparation, I’ve been dealing with food poisoning and crashes but now I’m feeling good. Stage 4 to Genting Highlands will be the main stage for the overall classification.”

Belkin's Theo Bos is also looking for some revenge after being knocked out of last year's event by illness after winning two stages. "Looking at the map, there’s a potential for a lot of bunch sprints, probably eight or nine out of ten stages. I haven’t won a race yet this year but I rode the Tour of Qatar and the legs were feeling good."

The Tour de Langkawi allows teams of only six riders, making it more challenging for the sprinters' teams to control the race and line up a powerful lead-out, but Bos is confident that his Belkin team can get the job done.

"We have a well-balanced team with excellent lead-out men for me," Bos said. "It’s great to have an Olympic champion, Graeme Brown, and the individual pursuit world record holder, Jack Bobridge, in front of me before sprinting but there’ll be a big competition between all the teams who came here with a sprinter. I’ve seen in Qatar that [Orica-GreenEdge’s] Aidis Kruopis is in very good shape. Andrea Guardini should be as good as usual and also Francesco Chicchi.