THE staging of the inaugural Le Tour de Femina (LTdF) 2019, Malaysia's first international multi-stage cycle race for women, has received overwhelming response with more than 40 professional and international teams expressing keen interest to be part of the September event.
Following its official launch in May, LTdF continues to draw attention from professional teams including some of the top UCI Women World Tour and continental teams, clubs and national teams from Europe, Asia and Asia-Pacific.
Perth-based Velofit Australia and China's Liv Pro Cycling team were among the firsts to confirm their entries as race organisers Ciclista Sports Sdn Bhd stepped up preparations for the race which gets underway from 7-12 September.
Having competed in various races around South East Asia including stage races in Vietnam and Thailand, Velofit Australia are expected to bring along a mixture of experienced and young riders for their first taste of action in Malaysia.
"We're delighted to be able to compete at this level in Malaysia and facilitate racing for local and international at the highest level. We are also thrilled to be involved in an event that is delivering opportunities and growth for women in sport in the ASEAN region," said a Velofit team statement.
Meanwhile, China Liv Pro Cycling Team are also no pushover, having competed in some of the major multi-stage races in China including the Tour of Zhousyan and a UCI 2.WWT race, Tour of Chongming Island.
The team are expected to parade riders like former Asian champion Pu Yixian, a notable General Classification (GC) contender who finished 6th overall in this year's Tour of Zhousyan Island.
Another GC contender, Zhao Xi Sha (4th in Stage 3, 12th overall (GC) and in 8th overall in points competition in this year's Tour of Chongming) and Wu Pei Xiao (3rd overall in the mountains classification of the 2.2 Tour of Zhoushan Island II) are also expected to boost the team's chances in the race.
The 6-stage race from 6 to 12 September 2019 covers a total distance of 719.9 km with the participation of some 130 riders from Europe, Asia and the USA.
LTdF is UCI-sanctioned event and held in collaboration with the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF). It is part of organisers Ciclista Sports' efforts to steer Malaysia into becoming one of the major hubs for women cycling in this part of the world.
The race is also geared towards boosting the country's sports tourism agenda via extensive global media exposure and broadcast plans.
"We're looking forward to the staging of this race and hope to contribute to the development and rise of women cycling in this part of the world," said Ciclista Sports Sdn Bhd Chief Executive Officer Shahirudeen Seeni.
The response with regards to team participation has been overwhelming with more than 40 teams expressing keen interests, surpassing its target of a 23-team race.
At present, there are 23 elite multiple stage-races held under the UCI Women's World Tour calendar while for races under the UCI 2.1-category and below, there are 30 UCI-sanctioned races spread out globally.