KUALA LUMPUR - With two major climbs likely to decide the outcome of this year's PETRONAS Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) 2022, WorldTeams challengers Movistar and EF Education-EasyPost are bringing their top climbers in pursuit of the coveted yellow jersey in the 26th edition of the race, which begins next week in Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan.
Spanish-based Movistar and USA’s EF Education, appearing for the first time in the 2.Pro race, are putting their trust in its three notable climbers when the race heads for Genting Highlands on Stage 3 and the penultimate climb in Gunung Raya.
Movistar are depending on two Colombian climbers, Einer Agusto Rubio Reyes and Ivan Ramiro Sosa Cuervo as well as Spanish Oscar Rodriguez to make impact in the 8-day race which runs from 11-18 October.
The 27-year-old Rodriguez, stage winner in the 2018 Vuelta a Espana and King of Mountains in the Tour of the Alps, leads a strong challenge in the mountains, especially in the climb up to Genting Highlands.
The Burlada-born rider is now ranked world 349th and was formerly with Astana for the 2020-2021 season before joining Movistar this year with overall second spot in the Tour of Hongrie as his best result.
In 24-year-old Ivan Ramiro Sosa, Movistar can rely on his experience to put up a strong challenge in the peloton as the former Androni-Sidermec rider was part of the LTdL peloton in 2017, where he finished 15th overall.
Sosa’s talent was evident when he was riding with Androni and caught the eyes of several top teams, but the Pasca-born rider eventually headed to Team Sky for the 2019-2021 season before joining Movistar this year.
His most notable achievements include clinching the King of Mountains in Volta a Burgos 2019 and the yellow jersey in Vuelta a Asturias, as well as 10th overall in this year’s Volta a Andalucia.
Einer Agusto Rubio Reyes, 24, is another rider who could make impact, having been with the team since 2020 and has already tasted action in two Giros in 2020 and 2021.
Apart from climbers, Movistar will also be armed by reputable sprinters with 137th UCI-ranked German sprinter Max Kanter, 24, formerly with Sunweb and DSM, ready to unleash his power on flat routes.
The 21-year-old Brazilian-born Vinicius Rangel Costa and Denmark’s time trial national champion Mathias Norsgaard Jogensen, 25, are expected to be the lead-out men to pull Kanter to the front in bunch sprint finishes.
Meanwhile, EF Education-EasyPost, currently ranked 15th in the UCI team rankings, are also equipped with top climbers comprising Colombian duo Jhoan Esteban Chaves Rubio, 32, and Diego Andres Camargo Pineda, 24, as well as 26-year-old Ukranian Mark Padun.
Esteban Chaves, currently ranked 113th in the world, was a former Orica GreenEdge and Michelton-Scott rider who regularly featured in Grand Tours. Chaves’ notable palmares include winning three stages in Giro d’Italia and two stages in Vuelta a Espana from 2015 to 2019.
Pineda who was roped into EF Education in 2021 is another climbing talent who featured in last year’s Vuelta and the recent Giro while Padun, formerly with Bahrain-Merida and has participated five times in Grand Tour, is also a name to watch due to his aggressive riding style, clearly evident in last year’s Criterium du Dauphine.
Currently managed by former world champion Tejay Van Garderen, EF will also have the services of two Dutchmen Julius Van Den Berg, 25, and Marijn Van Den Berg, 23, as well as Ecuadorian Jerferson Cepeda, 26.
This year’s 26th PETRONAS LTdL 2022 starts with a 157.3km Stage 1 ride from Kuala Pilah to Kuala Lumpur before continuing with Stage 2 from Kuala Klawang to Raub (178.9km).
The gruelling climb up to Genting Highlands comes early on Stage 3 from Putrajaya (131.9km) followed by Stage 4 from Sabak Bernam to Meru Raya, Ipoh (137.9km), Stage 5 Kuala Kangsar to Kulim (172.0km), Stage 6 from Georgetown to Alor Setar (120.4km), another climb from Kuah to Gunung Raya (Stage 7, 90.8km) in Langkawi and ends with a 115.9km Langkawi Loop the final Stage 8.
The PETRONAS LTdL 2022 is set to be among the most competitive editions in recent years following confirmation by six WorldTeam outfits -- UAE Team Emirates (UAE), Cofidis (France), Lotto Soudal (Belgium), EF Education EasyPost (USA), Movistar (Spain) and Astana-Qazaqstan (Kazakhstan).
Four other ProTeam outfits, Drone Hopper-Androni Giocattoli (Italy), Uno X-Pro Cycling (Norway), Alpecin-Deceuninck (Belgium) and Burgos-BH (Spain) will add more excitement and colour to the Tour.
Continental teams Terengganu Polygon Cycling Team and Team Sapura Cycling of Malaysia are among the front runners while the other entrants confirmed were Mula Cycling Team and Roojai Cycling Team of Indonesia, ARA Pro Racing Sunshine Coast (Australia), China Glory Continental Cycling Team (China), ProTouch (South Africa) and Kuwait Pro Cycling (Kuwait).
Regional teams slated for the Tour include Thailand Continental Team (Thailand), Team UKYO (Jepun), 7-Eleven Cliqq Air (Philippines) and the Malaysian National team.
ABOUT LE TOUR de LANGKAWI
Le Tour de Langkawi is a stage race held in Malaysia mooted by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir, to put Malaysia on the world sporting and tourism map. Held since 1996, the race usually begins in Langkawi and includes major landmarks such as Genting Highlands and Dataran Merdeka. The race is sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) as part of the UCI Asia Tour calendar and is the biggest cycle race in Asia. Because of the reputation it holds, the race regularly attracts top teams from the World Tour as well as other pro continental, continental and national teams from Europe and Asia.
Established in 1974, Petroliam Nasional Berhad (“PETRONAS”) is Malaysia’s fully integrated oil and gas multinational ranked among the largest corporations on FORTUNE Global 500®. As the custodian for Malaysia’s national oil and gas resources, we explore, produce and deliver energy to meet society’s growing needs. The growing demand for energy inspires and strengthens our purpose to steadily drive for new solutions and push boundaries towards a sustainable energy future.
For further information, please visit www.petronas.com
ABOUT HUMAN VOYAGE
Human Voyage (M) Sdn. Bhd is a sports event company that specialises in cycling events. The company has successfully organised the UCI MTB race in Langkawi (Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge) and has attracted many international top riders and repeat participants. Previously, Human Voyage has also been entrusted with the responsibility of organising the 20th edition of LTdL in 2015 apart from 2019, 2020 and 2022 editions.