Three South African based Eritrean cyclists will compete this week at the 2012 Le Tour de Langkawi cycling event representing South Africa’s ‘MTN-Qhubeka‘ team.
The 10 day race that maintains a 2.HC (Hors Classe) status by UCI begins on February 24 in Malaysia.
This year’s MTN-Qhubeka team for the Tour de Langkawi will feature raiders like Jani Tewelde, Meron Russom and Tesfai Habtariam, all from Eritrea, Adrien Niyonshuti from Rwanda along with Jacques Janse van Rensburg and Dennis van Niekerk from South Africa.
For the Eritrean trio, who joined the MTN-Qhubeka team on mid-January, it would be their first major international stage race outside of Africa.
But for the team coach, Dr. Carol Austin, she has strong faith in them. She describe the Eritrean neo-pros Meron, Jani and Tesfai as the most “aggressive and fearless riders”.
The main focus of the team is to make an impact on stage 5 (Genting Heights) of the tour to qualify it for the ‘king of the mountain‘ title. According to Austin, both Van Niekerk and Van Rensberg are in good condition to tackle the mountain stage of Genting Highlands.
“They are Africa’s best climbing talent. Their power data show that they are primed to tackle the stage and finish well in the overall classification,” said Austin. “They have been training hard over the past two months, and their SRM power data confirms their current form.”
“I am very excited to be taking this team to Langkawi,” says Team Manager, Kevin Campbell. “They are talented, excited and determined to do well. These riders will earn the respect of their more illustrious counterparts with their performance in Malaysia.”
Covering 1,415km over 10 stages, the Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia is one of Asia’s biggest cycling races that attracts many competitors from around the globe.
The 10 race begins with Individual time trial along a 20.3 km course in Putrajaya to kick off the race; followed by stage 2 Putrajaya – Melaka (151.0km); Stage 3 Ayer Keroh – Parit Sulong (187.6km); Batu Pahat – Muar (169.4km); Ayer Keroh – Pandan Indah (190km); Proton Shah Alam – Genting Highlands (108km); Bentong – Kuantan (205.8km); Pekan – Chukai (100.8km); Kemasik – Kuala Terengganu (165.7km) dan Tasik Kenyir – Kuala Terengganu (114.8km).