The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team is heading to Southeast Asia for two successive races on the UCI's Asia Tour.
The eight-day 2.HC Tour de Langkawi starts Wednesday with a 165.5km opener from Kangar to Baling and concludes on March 2 with a final 119km route between Batu Pahat and Melaka. The 21st running of the race features four flat finishes for the sprinters and four stages with significant climbing, providing plenty of opportunities for the team's diverse roster.
Janez Brajkovič, Jonny Clarke and new Colombian recruit Daniel Jaramillo will carry the team's hopes on the ascents in Langkawi, while Ty Magner, John Murphy and Tanner Putt are on hand for the fast finishes.
The climbers' biggest challenge is the Cameron Highlands climb on day four. The summit finish gains close to 1,000 metres in total, of which 300m fall in the last 5km.
"The heat and humidity is a big challenge," said Clarke, who will be racing Langkawi for the sixth time. "Staying hydrated and keeping the body temperature down is key. Langkawi is a great race and it's a pleasure every time I come back. I'm looking forward to doing battle with my boys."
Coming off of a successful season opener in Australia at the Jayco Herald Sun Tour, where he won stage 3, Murphy is looking forward to the sprint finishes in Malaysia.
"This year's Tour de Langkawi route reveals another sprinter-friendly tour," Murphy said. "I am super excited to start in Malaysia after a successful start to the season at the Herald Sun Tour.
"We did our homework over the winter and are ready to keep winning this year," he said. "I see a lot of opportunity in the Tour de Langkawi, and I plan on seizing every chance we get in the sprints."
Following Langkawi, UnitedHealthcare will start the Tour de Taiwan on March 6. The five-day 2.1 race is also known for its climbs in the centre of the island and sprinter-friendly finishes. Fresh off the Tour of Qatar, Marco Canola is ready to take on the shorter and sharper climbs in Taiwan, while rouleur Danny Summerhill will try and take advantage of the rolling terrain to get off the front.
"With a lot hard races already in the bank, I can only imagine we're going to have a team of six super strong riders eager to win," Summerhill said.
Joining Summerhill and Canola on the Taiwan roster are Carlos Alzate, Marco Canola, Daniel Eaton and Adrian Hegyvary.
UnitedHealthcare has already competed so far this season in the Tour de San Luis, the Herald Sun Tour, Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race, the Tour of Oman and the Tour of Qatar.
The team has found success at the two early season Asian races in the past, most recently in 2014 with Brad White winning Langkawi's stage 5 and Luke Keough taking the opener in Taiwan.
Le Tour de Langkawi Roster: Janez Brajkovič, Jonny Clarke, Daniel Jaramillo, Ty Magner, John Murphy, Tanner Putt
Tour de Taiwan Roster: Carlos Alzate, Marco Canola, Daniel Eaton, Adrian Hegyvary, Danny Summerhill