KUALA LUMPUR -- French professional continental team Ag2r Prevoyance (Ag2r) will be making their second appearance in the 11th edition of the Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) from Feb 3 to 12.
"We know what Ag2r are capable of. They are, arguably, the top professional continental (division two) outfit in the world, almost at the same level as some of the Pro Tour teams," said First Cartel managing director Imran Abdullah.
Imran said the French outfit, who were seasoned campaigners in the Tour de France, have an interesting riders line-up for the upcoming Tour.
"They will bring their two promising riders -- Putstep and Vaitkus -- who are no pushovers in the pro circles. Although it is early in the season, I expect Ag2r will put in a strong challenge for the honours in this year's LTdL," he said in a statement Wednesday.
The two riders who could hold the key to AG2R success in LTdL are Estonia's Erki Putstep and Lithuania's Tomas Vaitkus.
Putstep, 29, a late starter in professional cycling arena, turned pro with Ag2r in 2003.
While Vaitkus, who was the world point race champion, joined the professional outfit, also in 2003. He won the Lithuania's road race and time trial champion in 2004.
The team will also feature Laurent Mangel, 22, who previously made waves as an amateur cyclist in the Elite II (the French national division two category).
Also in the squad is the 20-year-old Julien Loubet, who have already established himself as one of the big French riders of the future.
He was the French under-23 national road race champion in 2004 and he did not wait long to register his first win as a professional when he bagged the Ronde du Sidobre race last year.
The team will also introduce their newly signed up riders, Carl Naibo and Renaud Dion.
Besides Ag2r, the other French team for this year's tour are Credit Agricole and Bouygues Telecom which have confirmed their participation earlier.
Imran said the 11th edition will also witness an interesting battle of young guns featuring Colombia Selle Italia's Jose Rujano, Credit Agricole's Saul Raisin and Bouygues Telecom's Sebastien Chavanel.
The 10-stage Hors category LTdL begins in Kuala Lumpur on Feb 3 and takes the peloton through 1,161.7km of scenic routes both urban and rural, throughout the west coast of the peninsula, before ending with the traditional Kuala Lumpur criterium on Feb 12.