Aisan Cycling team is aiming for the individual general classification’s yellow jersey when the Jelajah Malaysia 2012 takes place next month on 8-13 May.
Team manager Takumi Beppu said this week that the team has a lot to make up for from last year’s race where the tsunami in Japan which took place in the middle of the Jelajah Malaysia 2011 affected their concentration.
“Last year, I would rate our achievement as around 60%. We did well at first and wore the King of the Mountain jersey for a time but when the great earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, it affected all of us in the team. We just could not maintain our concentration in the race. That resulted in us losing the jersey and also failing to get the result which we were aiming for,” said Beppu, who had at one time rode for team Mapei.
“For this year, I expect the team to win the General Classification for the yellow jersey. That is our aim. We got second place in the GC in 2009 (by Beppu himself), and I deeply expect our riders to do better than that.”
Last year, Aisan’s best placed finisher was Kazuhiro Mori, who came in sixth in the GC - close to four minutes behind tour winner Mehdi Sohrabi of the Tabriz Petrochemical team from Iran.
Other than Kazuhiro, the other riders taking part in the race this year are Takeaki Ayabe, Kenichi Suzuki, Masahiro Shinagawa, Shimpei Fukuda and Masakazu Ito.
Shinagawa, formerly with Skil-Shimano, is an experienced rider having taken part in the Tour of Okinawa, Tour de Korea, the Jayco Herald Sun Tour and even the Paris-Roubaix previously.
Beppu added that Kazuhiro and also Shimpei who are both sprinters will be the riders to look out for in Aisan where the fact that they will be taking part in two Asia Tour races before the Jelajah Malaysia and also the Japan National Championship (on 29 April) meant that the riders will be in a good condition.
“The pivotal factor is speed so we will have to make full use of their abilities at the right occasion to give our team advantage on a route which is mostly flat,” explained Beppu.
“As you may know, Aisan Racing Team has been participating in UCI Asia Tours since 2006. UCI 2.2 class races like Jelajah Malaysia is very important for us where we have been participating since 2009.
“Our target is to be the No. 1 team in ASIA!”
After Stage One from Merdeka Stadium to Bandar Baru Kampar, the longest stage of the tour this year will take place in Stage Two from Kampar to Kulim in Kedah for a total distance of 201.8km. It is significantly shorter than last year’s longest stage at 222.5km.
Stage Three will see the peloton heading close to the Malaysia-Thailand border in Chuping in Perlis before Stage Four, a short 98.5km ride from Kangar to Sungai Petani in Kedah. From here, the race will head south to Ipoh in Perak for Stage Five just before the final race to the finish.
Stage Six will see a frantic finish in the second longest stage – a 199km ride from Ipoh to Dataran Merdeka.
AISAN CYCLING TEAM
Manager: Takumi Beppu
JELAJAH MALAYSIA 2012
STAGE ONE (8 May 2012) – Stadium Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur to Bandar Baru Kampar, Perak (161.5km)
STAGE TWO (9 May 2012) - Bandar Baru Kampar, Perak to Kulim, Kedah (201.8km)
STAGE THREE (10 May 2012) – Kulim, Kedah to Felda Chuping, Perlis (168.8km)
STAGE FOUR (11 May 2012) – Kangar, Perlis to Sungai Petani, Kedah (98.5km)
STAGE FIVE (12 May 2012) - Sungai Petani, Kedah to Ipoh, Perak (193.4km)
STAGE SIX (13 May 2012) – Ipoh, Perak to Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur (199.5km)