Get Set and Pedal in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The ninth edition of Le Tour de Langkawi, (the LTdL) starting February 6, with an even bigger budget from sponsors, is set to pedal its way: a test of mental strength and physical endurance pushed to the limit. This year’s Tour, covering 1,250 km, starting in Penang and ending at Dataran Merdeka, in Kuala Lumpur, will be covered by 190 journalists, including 46 foreign journalists among the 400 foreigners.

What does it take to organize an international cycling – Tour – event? According to organizers First Cartel, there will be a total entourage of 1,500personnel in 570 vehicles – consisting of cyclists, support crews, race officials, members of the media and event personnel – in a massive movement from one venue to another, everyday for the 10 day/ stage event.

A total of 140 riders representing 20 teams from Europe, South America, North America, Africa and Asia will be taking part. The convoy of vehicles includes cars, lorries, buses, motorbikes- and police outriders.

Says spokesman Kamal Shafi,  “A total of 188 policemen will be on duty throughout the Tour. They are among the most important people involved. Not only do they ensure the safety of the riders, but also make sure everyone else with the Tour makes it safely to their destinations. We are in good hands.”

Other uniformed bodies involved are the Fire Department, Police units, and the Military Medical Corp.
An idea hatched during the tenure of the former Malaysian prime minister, using sport as the vehicle, very much in the tradition of the Tour de France, it has now put his favorite holiday island on the tourism map.

Team Manager of Italian Division One outfit Lampre, Maurizio Piovani regards it as an important race due to its status as Asia’s biggest race and a perfect platform to start out their new campaign on a bright note.

Adds Piovani, ” we look forward to competing in Malaysia. We put high importance on the Tour. We had a good outing in our first appearance last year. The organization is great, and we gain good UCI points. Good routes, high level of security and safety, world class facilities, good hotels, and excellent food.”

Over the years, not only has it grown in stature it has also become a massive logistical undertaking for its organizers.

How massive are the logistics?

It is a story of the private sector being nudged by the government, with the ultimate argument it is for the benefit of the country’s tourism industry. 550 vehicles of all types will be involved in addition to 4 helicopters, occupying a total of 850 rooms every day throughout the 10 days. Organizing head, Wan Lokman, speaking confidently adds, “The race itself will be done by a multi-national force. Everything is in place and I can assure you the tour will run smoothly.”

The technical equipment has been put together by Spanish, American and Irish companies. The race officials are from Holland and experienced officials from other countries.

The bulk of the all time high budget of almost US$4.5 million goes towards the cost ( almost $1.5 million ) of telecasting the event live to 60 countries, reaching an estimated viewership of 600 million.

Prize money (US$400, 00), and logistics ($1 million) make up the balance spent.

The daily live, or delayed (for 2 days) telecasts will be shown by international networks ESPN, STAR and JSky of Japan. Several other international TV stations, FOX Middle East, SKY United Kingdom, CHANNEL 4 United Kingdom, POLISH TV, and a South African station will air 30-minute daily highlights. 

Equipment and technical assistance for coverage of the tour will be supplied by a UK company, and an Australian based company which specialize in such events.

Petronas, the national oil company (which among others owns the Malaysian F1 circuit in Sepang, and a major sponsor of an F1 team) is one of the main sponsors.

This year, for the first time, the company will introduce a ‘ Smart Pay Card ‘ for use during the Tour. The card will help teams and officials save time as they will be able to re-fuel and continue their work without disruptions.

“Using the card will save a lot of time. It is more efficient and will solve the problem of distributing vouchers to teams, officials, media, volunteers and others involved with the Tour,” adds Wan Lokman.

As one of the few free-entrance and open spectator sport left, sponsors are rewarded by the visibility of advertisements carried by the cavalcade.

Explains organizing head Lokman, “Many people look forward to the cavalcade. They are mesmerized and every year we find more and more people lining the streets, looking forward to our arrival. It is a sight to behold.”

By Y. Sulaiman – your news source for the travel and tourism industry.

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