Team expect top five finish from Yong Li
Meitan Hompo-GDR’s Koji Fukushima (left) and brother Shinichi (right) believe their teammate Ng Yong Li is good enough to win the Asian riders’ category.
HIS realistic aspirations have been quashed by his new Japanese team but Ng Yong Li has been given the task of sealing a place in history in Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) which starts on Saturday.
The Malaysian climber was introduced by his Meitan Hompo-GDR team at the LTdL headquarters in Bukit Jalil yesterday, and teammate Shinichi Fukushima told of just how much hope they have in the 22-year-old cyclist.
“We had been watching him for many years, and last year we asked him to join us. At first he was with his Portuguese team but finally we managed to sign him in the off-season,” said Shinichi.
“Then in our pre-season team meeting, where all of us gathered in Chiang Rai (Thailand) our team manager (Akira Asada) asked Yong Li what his target would be in LTdL.
“He said top five in the Asian rider’s classification. The whole team said no. We told him he’s good enough to win it and his target should be number one.”
In addition, a top five finish in the overall general classification, the highest ever and the first time a Malaysian would have made it into the top 10, has been placed as Yong Li’s secondary target.
“I felt good with this team as soon as I joined them, and after a month in the pre-season training camp there’s a feeling like we’re one family,” said Yong Li, who signed with the team from Portuguese outfit Vitoria-ASC.
“Their education has been in Europe and so has mine.”
Shinichi and brother Koji, are two of only three Asian stage winners in the history of LTdL, but their roles this year will be mainly to guide their younger riders.
Apart from Yong Li, Shinichi and Koji, the team will line-up 19-year-old Taiwan rider Wang Yin Chih, Yukiya Arashiro and sprinter Takashi Miyazawa.