James Oram and Tom Scully are set to take on one of Malaysia’s best known and loved races when they line up as part of a strong field who will be taking on the 21st Tour de Langkawi. Starting today the eight-day stage race begins in Kangar and will give Oram and the opportunity to take on a number of top flight World Tour teams.
This year the Tour de Langkawi will cover 1178km of racing from the start in Kangar to the finish in Melaka. During that time the field will have to contend with two tough mountain stages – one of which is a summit finish – and a number of tough undulating days in the saddle. In recent years the Tour de Langkawi has become a staple of Astana’s Andrea Guardini. From 2011 until now the Italian sprinter has notched up an impressive 18 stage wins to his name; and he will be back racing again in 2016.
Three World Tour teams feature in the start list, with Dimension Data not with the defending champion Youcef Reguigui who has just completed the Tour of Oman. Astana are here with Guardini and Tinkoff are also riding with former Giro d’Italia stage winner Evgeni Petrov and Jurag Sagan – brother of World Champion Peter – also racing.
ONE Pro Cycling will go into Langkawi with a strong line up that includes James Oram. It’s been a solid start to the season for the 22 year old, with five top ten finishes as well as fourth overall in the New Zealand Cycle Classic and 16th in the Herald Sun Tour. It will be interesting to see what role Oram plays in Langkawi with the difficult nature of stages that will make a number of days too tough for a pure sprinter but not tough enough for a pure climber. Oram’s 4th place in the Admiral Hill stage of the New Zealand Cycle Classic could bode well for stage 4.
The fourth stage is going to be very telling in the fight for the general classification. It is just 129.4km in length, but it steadily ramps up to a summit finish in Tanah Rata with a 1st category and Hors Category climb both in the mix. This could be a great opportunity for Oram to challenge the race lead.
For Drapac Pro Cycling I would expect to see them towards the sharp end of the racing particularly in the sprint finishes. It will be interesting again to see what role Tom Scully will play in the team. Scully, like Oram, has recently come from racing the Herald Sun Tour where the focus for him was much more on protecting Nathan Earle and Adam Phelan.
This week they have the strength of nine time Langkawi stage winner Graeme Brown in their midst. The last time Brown won in Langkawi though was in 2005; after which he had a long 8 year break from the race. He has not failed to feature on the podium though in stages during the two editions from 2013 and 2014; time will tell if he can improve on that and challenge the dominance of Andrea Guardini.