New route layout for LTdL
IN meeting with tourism values, the sporting sense in Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) 2008 has been challenged with the unveiling of an unprecedented route layout.
The highlight of the annual Tour, the Genting climb, comes on the second stage of next year’s edition on Feb 9-17, prompting questions from critics as it is the only significant mountain stage on offer in the shortened race.
Never in the 13-year history of the Tour has the Genting climb come so early and for the first time as well, the traditional final stage, the Kuala Lumpur Criterium has been excluded.
Instead, the nine-stage Tour ends on Feb 17 with a gruelling 153.8km ride through dangerous hilly routes in Kuala Klawang, Negeri Sembilan in an attempt by the organisers to inflict some change to the general classification on the final day.
The Cameron Highlands mountain stage has also been excluded this time around, providing for a predominantly flat race, with bunch sprint finishes anticipated in all but one stage.
The general classification for the overall title, is likely to be won by the rider who wins the Genting stage.
A bland race is thus expected as the team holding the yellow jersey having an easy task to control the race by its throat from then on over flat stages, which strengthens the belief that it will be bunch sprint finishes all the way.
On the back of Sports Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said’s insistence that the next edition of the race will be closely scrutinised in meeting with a key performance index (KPI) set by the Government, the organising committee seems pressured.
“As I’ve said before, this race will be closely monitored and it must meet the Government’s requirements if we are to continue pumping in money to host the race,” said Azalina.
LTdL chief operating officer Datuk Naim Mohamad said the committee had no choice but to meet certain criteria in order to satisfy sponsors.
Still it can be an interesting race, with the climbers having a go first. A different type of rider might win the overall as they have time to make up ground in the stages remaining after Genting,” said Naim.
The route – Stage One (Feb 9): 132.4km from Alor Star to Kulim; Stage Two (Feb 10): 125.4km from Tapah to Genting Highlands; Stage Three (Feb 11): 195km from Lanchang to Cukai; Stage Four (Feb 12): 128km from Kuantan to Kuala Rompin; Stage Five (Feb 13): 185.7km from Kuala Rompin to Bandar Penawar; Stage Six (Feb 14): 183.2km from Bandar Penawar to Johor Baru; Stage Seven (Feb 15): 128km from Johor Baru to Batu Pahat; Stage Eight (Feb 16): 150km from Malacca to Seremban; Stage Nine (Feb 17): 153.8km from Seremban to Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur.