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Vuelta a Espana runner-up Froome to race off-road in Langkawi

Christopher Froome takes a big win

Christopher Froome takes a big win (Image credit: Vuelta a Espana)

Vuelta a España runner-up Chris Froome (Team Sky) will saddle up for the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge next month. Currently competing with the British team in the road world championship in Copenhagen, Froome is looking forward to swapping his road bike for some off-road action on the island of Langkawi from October 17 to 23, 2011.

"I actually started cycling through mountain biking, so it'll be a nice change to switch away from the road bike for a bit and go back to my roots," said the 26-year-old Froome.

"Langkawi is a paradise for training, so I plan to ride an event or two and then spend some time enjoying a few outdoor activities, exploring a few places and taking in the scenery on my bike."

The Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge is in its second year.

"We are naturally delighted to have a rider of Chris's stature come to Langkawi and participate in our event," said race organiser and Human Voyage CEO Datuk Malik Mydin. 

Froome's battle in the recent Vuelta a España with eventual winner Juan Jose Cobo had cycling fans around the world on the edge of their seats.

The Kenyan-born Froome is highly regarded for his loyalty in assisting teammate Bradley Wiggins in the mountain stages of the Tour de France, the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta a Espana. However, he has in the past year enjoyed his own success with top-10 finishes in the Tours of Castilla y Leon, Luxembourg, Romandie and Switzerland.

He rode a blistering time trial on stage 10 of the Vuelta to hold the overall leader's jersey for a day, before a week of relentless attacks in the high mountains finally paid off with a memorable win on stage 17. By the time the race reached its finale in Madrid, Froome lay second overall, missing the top step of the podium by a mere 13 seconds.

Riders from 20 different nations are signed up for the mountain bike stage race including Swiss riders Nathalie Schneitter and Vivienne Meyer.

The men's winner of the inaugural edition, Lachlan Norris, is eager to defend his elite men's title while U23 racer Russell Finsterwald is also attending from the United States. German-based Team Bulls will parade former European champion Thomas Dietsch of France and German three-time Cape Epic champ Karl Platt.

Completing the stellar line-up of teams are Team Bridgestone Anchor of Japan which boasts an impressive line-up including three-time Asian cross country champion Kohei Yamamoto and MTN Qhubeka's Yolande Speedy and Paul Cordes, both of South Africa.

Stage 1 will begin on October 18 with 62km around the island. It will be followed by a cross country race starting and finishing at Kampung Tok Senik Resort for stage 2.

Stage 3 will be a seven-hour endurance cross country special stage race at Telaga Harbour Park, Pantai Kok, followed by the nerve-shredding king of the mountain and cross country race which will end at the Gunung Raya Hill as stage 4, before the event will culminate with stage 5, a short track. An off-road jamboree ride will mark the closing and final day of the race, with a limited participation of up to 1,000 riders for the 44km race.

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