THEY may not be in the same class as the WorldTeam but UCI ProTour outfits Alpecin-Deceuninck and UNO X Pro Cycling are capable of turning the tables on top-ranked WorldTeam challengers in the Petronal Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) which starts on October 11.
Based on Alpecin’s current ranking and the quality of riders listed in its roster, the French-based team is one of the teams capable of giving the big guns a run for their money in the 26th edition of the race.
Alpecin, now 11th in the world ranking with 7,528 points (up to 29 September), are eyeing wins in the eight-stage race which commences in Kuala Pilah on October 11.
Led by Sports Director Michele Cornelisse, sprint specialist Jakub Mareczko who is no stranger to LTdL heads the six-man team and is expected to be among the frontrunners on flat routes and sprint finishes.
The 28-year-old Polish-born rider who currently holds Italian citizenship has accumulated three stage wins in LTDL—Stage 6 in the 2016 edition (Putrajaya-Rembau, 147 kms) when he was with Willier Southeast and two wins on Stage 3 (Serdang-Pantai Remis 118 kms) and Stage 7 (Melaka-Rembau 148 kms) in the 2017 edition (Willier Triestina-Selle Italia).
Mareczko has won numerous races in Asia and this year, was crowned the Sprint King title at the Tour of Antalya in Turkiye.
Watch out for Austrian Michael Gogl, a former NTT and Trek-Segafredo rider who brings with him wealth of experience racing in Grand Tours which include five appearances in Tour de France and Vuelta a Espana.
Four others included in the Malaysian mission are Jason Osborne, Ayco Bastiaens, Sjoerd Bax (Netherlands) and David Van der Poel (Netherlands), elder brother to world champion Matthieu Van der Poel.
Meanwhile, Norwegian team UNO X Pro Cycling Team are making their maiden appearance in LTdL, taking along riders who have made names in the Mountain bike and Cycle-cross scenes.
Kristoffer Halvorsen, 26, formerly with EF Pro Cycling (2020) and Sky (2018-2019) is a sprint specialist currently ranked world number 22 whose Palmares include winning the World Under-23 title in 2016 and sprints winner in Tour de l’Avenir in 2017.
Soren Werenskjold, 22, is another young rider and among the bright prospects following his exploit in the 2017 Under-23 World Championships in the time trial competition apart from coming out third in the Road Race.
Fredrik Dvernes, Anders Halland Johannessen and two other climbers heading to Malaysia are former Trek-Segafredo (2018-2021) rider, Niklas Eg who has seen action in the Giro, Tour de France and Vuelta Espana while Torstein Traeen will also be among the ones to watch following his King of the Mountains title won at the Tour of the Alps apart from finishing ninth in the Volta a Catalunya.