CYCLING / LE TOUR DE LANGKAWI: New organiser for race?
AFTER 18 editions, Le Tour de Langkawi's (LTdL) history could see another twist with private company Human Resource Sdn Berhad said to be interested in organising the event.
Human Resource is the organiser of the Langkawi International Mountain Bike Challenge (LIMBC) and is led by English channel swimmer Datuk Malik Mydin.
But it won't be a swiftly done deal, especially with the LTdL looking stabilised after several years of uncertainty.
The LTdL organisers have announced key improvements, particularly in terms of funding and recognition from the sport's governing body this year, which is the third year of the race being organised by the ministry with the National Sports Council (NSC) and Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) the co-organisers.
With corporate sponsorship making up half of the RM15 million total budget compared to a fully government-funded race three years ago, a change in organisation is something Sports Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek wants to evaluate before making his stand.
Ahmad Shabery did, however, confirm that there is a serious bid to take over the race.
"Yes, we have received a request from a third party to take over the running of LTdL, from Human Voyage Sdn Berhad of which Datuk Malik Mydin is the chief executive officer," said Ahmad Shabery when contacted yesterday. "However, it is too early for us to decide. We want to see how the present organisation works in this edition of the race and then make an evaluation."
Malik, when contacted, said he reserved his comments on the matter until there is a confirmation.
LTdL began in 1996 under the organisation of First Cartel Sdn Berhad, which saw the race grow from a then UCI 2.6 status race to a 2.HC (hors category or top tier of the continental calendar) status race by 2005 when the International Cycling Union's (UCI) global cycling reform took effect.
The ownership of First Cartel changed hands in 2004, from Datuk Wan Lokman Wan Ibrahim to Simon Donnellan @ Imran Abdullah, who ran the race in 2005 and 2006.
Those two years saw the demise of the race, eventually leading to an RM10.7 million debt, which saw First Cartel wound up and the sports ministry stepping in with a bail-out package to save the race in time for the 2007 edition which was run by the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF).
MNCF's first two years in charge saw the national body balance between funds for the running of the race and the settlement of a huge list of creditors owed payments from the 2005 and 2006 editions, which when settled saw the sports ministry taking full charge of the organisation of the race in 2010.
Over the past three years, the race began to be rebuilt again, with this year's edition moving up a step with the attraction of what is touted as the strongest field ever to feature in the race with five UCI Pro Teams taking centre stage.