Tour de Langkawi to drop Genting Highlands climb on eve of race?

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One of the most distinctive landmarks of the Tour de Langkawi appears set to be removed from the race one day before the start of the 2015 edition, with the always-crucial Genting Highlands climb reportedly being dropped by the organisers.

Details are scarce at this point in time but CyclingTips has learned that landslides on the mountain are a possible reason for the forced exclusion.

In November the entire three lane road was blocked by a landslide. Local media said at the time that it would take a day to clear it.

MTN-Qhubeka rider Jacques van Rensburg expressed disappointment at the news. His team-mate Merhawi Kudus is regarded as one of the top race favourites, with the climber returning to the event after taking second overall last year.

Many of the other stages in the Tour de Langkawi are flat to undulating. Although the category one climb of Titiwangsa occurs on this year’s third stage, its location over 100 kilometres from the finish means that any splits could come back together.

As a result of the profile of the other stages, the race ending up one of the steepest climbs in cycling was certain to shape the final GC, as it has done every year it has been included. It was set to take place on the penultimate stage.

Indications prior to this evening’s official team presentation are that the Fraser’s Hill climb may be included instead. This is also a very tough ascent, but not as difficult – or as renowned – as the Genting Highlands climb.

It is located approximately 120 kilometres from the previously-announced stage seven starting point in Shah Alam, and is thus within range for the riders.

While the omission of Genting Highlands will be seen as a setback by some, it could in theory lead to a more open race. When Genting is included the GC contenders tend to settle into a pattern of less aggressive racing, knowing that any gains on the otherwise mainly flat stages will be minimal.

Instead, they often save energy for the decisive ascent.

While Frazer Hill is another tough climb, it has less of a reputation and introduces an element of uncertainty.

It was used in 2008, another year that Genting did not feature.

On that occasion, the Serramenti PVC Diquigiovanni-Androni Giocattoli team worked for its designated leader Ruslan Ivanov. He finished 15 seconds behind Filippo Savini (CSF Group Navigare), but time loss by the Italian earlier in the race meant that the Moldovan won the overall classification.

Gianni Savio’s team is once again in the race and will be determined to try to scoop victory once again.

More details to follow later…

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