Alpecin, UNO X could outshine WorldTeam outfits at 2022 LTdL
Past Tour stage-winner Jakub Mareczko expected to be among front runners
KUALA LUMPUR – They may not be in the same standings as the WorldTeams, but UCI ProTour outfits Alpecin-Deceuninck and UNO X Pro Cycling could outshine top-ranked WorldTeam challengers at the upcoming Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) starting October 11.
The French-based Alpecin team’s current ranking and quality of riders listed for LTdL hint that they are among the teams capable of giving the bigger teams a run for their money in the 26th edition of the race.
Ranked 11th in the world rankings with 7,528 points (as of Thursday), Alpecin will be eyeing stage wins during the eight-stage race that sets off from Kuala Pilah, Negri Sembilan.
No stranger to LTdL, the six-man team are led by sports director Michele Cornelisse and sprint specialist Jakub Mareczko, and is expected to be among the front runners on flat routes and sprint finishes.
Polish-born Mareczko, who currently holds Italian citizenship, has accumulated three stage wins in past LTdL editions – Stage 6 Putrajaya-Rembau, 147km (2016) when he was riding with Wilier Southeast; and on Stage 3 Serdang-Pantai Remis, 118km (2017); and Stage 7 Melaka-Rembau, 148km (2017) with Willier Triestina-Selle Italia.
The 28-year-old rider has won numerous races in Asia and recently won the Sprint King title at the Tour of Antalya in Turkey earlier this year.
Another rider to watch is Austrian Michael Gogl. A former NTT and Trek-Segafredo rider, he brings with him an abundance of experience racing in Grand Tours having appeared in five Tour de France and Vuelta Espana.
Jason Osborne, Ayco Bastiaens, Sjoerd Bax, and David Van der Poel, who is elder brother to world champion Matthieu Van der Poel, are also riders to keep an eye out for.
Meanwhile, Norwegian outfit UNO X Pro Cycling Team are making their debut appearance at LTdL, with a line-up of riders who have made their names in mountain biking and cycle-cross.
Kristoffer Halvorsen, 26, who was formerly with EF Pro Cycling (2020) and Sky (2018-2019), is a sprint specialist currently ranked 22nd in the world whose triumphs include winning the World Under-23 title (2016) and the sprint in Tour de I’Avenir (2017).
The 22-year-old Soren Werenskjold is another young rider who has shown potential after his exploits in the 2017 Under-23 World Championships in the time trial, apart from finishing third in the road race.
Fredrik Dvernes, Anders Halland Johannessen, and two other riders heading to Malaysia are former Trek-Segafredo riders Niklas Eg, who has seen action in the Giro d’Italia, Tour de France, and Vuelta Espana, while Torstein Traeen will also be among the ones to watch.
Former LTdL winner Ryan Gibbons makes his return with UAE Team Emirates World Tour outfit for the 26th edition of the race scheduled from October 11 to 18.
Apart from UAE Team Emirates, the other World Tour Teams slated for the race are Cofidis (France), Lotto Soudal (Belgium), EF Education-EasyPost (United States), Movistar (Spain), and Astana-Qazaqstan (Kazakhstan).
LTdL 2022 covers a challenging route of 1,183km, starting from Kuala Pilah in Negri Sembilan on October 11 and ending with two back-to-back stages which include the Gunung Raya mountaintop finish in Langkawi
This year’s race will start with Stage 1 from Kuala Pilah to Kuala Lumpur for a distance of 157.3km; Stage 2 Kuala Klawang-Raub (178.9km); Stage 3 Putrajaya-Genting Highlands (123.7km); Stage 4 Sabak Bernam-Meru Raya (137.9km); Stage 5 Kuala Kangsar-Kulim (172.0km); Stage 6 George Town-Alor Star (120.8km); Stage 7 Kuah-Gunung Raya (90.8km) and Stage 8 Loop Langkawi (115.9km).
source – The Vibes