Platt and Schneitter to defend titles in Langkawi

The third edition of the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge (LIMBC) will run October 15-20 with several top contenders from around the globe, including defending champions Karl Platt and Nathalie Schneitter.

Florian Vogel of Switzerland and the USA's Todd Wells, both of whom competed in the London Olympics, will be going for the men's title while Nick Craig, a British Hall of Famer and national champion who gave an input in designing the Langkawi course profile this year, starts as the favourite in the men's masters category.

Former European champion Vogel, 30, who finished 25th in the London Games, is ranked number four in cross county racing by the UCI. He will be accompanied by his Scott Swisspower team and countryman Roger Walder.

Wells of Team Specialized, enjoys the distinction of finishing 10th in the London Olympics, five places behind teammate and South Africa's Burry Stander, who is returning to Langkawi after a fine debut in LIMBC 2011.

The two Specialized teammates are expected to contend for the overall along side defending champ Platt of Team Bulls and UCI MTB marathon No 1 ranked rider, Steffen Thum, from Ultra Sports Rose Racing.

"I am here for a holiday to enjoy the beaches and nice weather. Oh I am kidding!" joked Platt. "The route is a big challenge, it is longer since its 90km distance. The heat is a big challenge but again there’s no perfect condition. The race is getting bigger and bigger. The level is getting so high and it is going to be very tight. I will fight with other competitors as I have been all year long."

"This is quite close to South Africa but the humidity here is something really different," said Thum. "Been training on the track here, I would say this is a very technical track but fun to ride."

Rabobank-Giant is sending Fabien Giger and Emil Lindgren, both from Switzerland.

"In Europe, it's autumn at the moment," said Giger. "So getting here is so humid and it is very interesting to come across monkeys and snakes on the track. But it doesn't matter. I am here for a top three finish, having enjoyed a good outing in the world championships five weeks ago."

Among the ladies, Burry Stander's wife Cherise Stander, who races both road and mountain bike events, will be challenging defending champion Nathalie Schneitter, Blaza Klemencic, Eva Lechner and Lea Davison.

"I just arrived here last night but I don't think jet lag could be the factor for the race as my fellow racers also go through the same thing," said Davison. "It's so beautiful to be here, the greenery and the beach. It will be a really good battle with other competitors. I have never been to South East Asia and only South Africa was the closest condition I experienced here. It would test the limit of the riders."

LIMBC organiser and CEO of Human Voyage Sdn Bhd, Datuk Malik Mydin, said the presence of top riders is testimony to LIMBC's growing reputation as a world-class event. "LIMBC 2012 promises to be an interesting and challenging affair, thanks to the presence of world-class riders. At the same time we are not ignoring the local riders."

LIMBC 2012 will flag off on Monday, October 15 with the prologue - an individual time trial of 2.4km at the Eagle Square, followed by stage 1, a 65km round the island race, starting and finishing at Lagenda Park. Stage 2 is a 45km race from East to West Langkawi starting from Lagenda Park, followed by a gruelling stage 3, the 60km Langkawi Marathon. Stage 4 is an Olympic distance cross country race around Langkawi GeoPark followed by stage 5, a beach front finale around a short circuit at Pantai Kok.

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