Is there no one besides Giro impresario Angelo Zomegnan who knows how to launch a big stage race with a spectacle? Case in point, the route presentation for the 2010 Tour de Langkawi. While the race, now in its 15th year, has grown in stature, the launch was a decidedly flat affair judging from the lack of photos and sexless press release on the tour web site. You could scour the net all day without finding more than the sad photo above.
Do four old guys in pressed short sleeve blue shirts get you worked up about the race? Is a handout list of the stages what gets the pulse racing? Is a map of Malaysia with the stages marked in red really the highlight of the evening? Is this the dramatic, sizzling show you want the world media to see? Me thinks not.
In other words, where was Miss Malaysia? While Giro boss Angelo Zomegnan trucks in a bevy of Italian models for his show and puts model-actress-human appetizer Yolanthe Cabau on stage, the Tour de Langkawi appeared to miss an opportunity.
Photographers for major cycling publications hate maps: they lack dimension and sex appeal. Trays of free food do not light the media bonfire. A hot “map pointer” girl is the catnip required to get everybody on board the Langkawi bus.
Again, we’re sad to say this looks like a French problem since the people behind the Tour de France help run the Tour de Langkawi. So we ask in French, Ou est le super sexy Miss Malaysia? What’s up with the French these days? Too much focus on drug testing and not enough on glitz, glamour and girls.
Let’s look at this from the riders perspective? How many mid level Italian races do you want to do over and over again? This is a global sport, travel, explore, meet new people, bring the folding bike. You want to ride yet another narrow, dangerous bumpy cobblestone road when you could be in an exotic island location?
You finish your training ride, open your lap top and check out the Langkawi route. You’re intrigued. Then you see a dazzling photo shoot with Miss Malaysia pointing at the stage 5 feed zone on the map, Miss Malaysia holding a fake winners check, Miss Malaysia modeling some lycra under garments with sponsor logos. Well, now some wet, rainy, run-of-the-mill race in Northern France just doesn’t hold the same appeal.
Soon you’re on the phone with Quickstep boss Patrick Lefevere or Garmin’s Matt White or Stefano Zanatta at Liquigas, saying hey, what say we skip Europe that week and hit Langkawi? It’ll be fun, we’ll get in our miles and Miss Malaysia said she’d give us a tour of all the bike shops at Kuala Lumpur.
So, we’re going to suggest that Angelo Zomegnan offer some tips and hints about how to pump up the volume. The man is a genius and his number one rule is: sexy girls pointing at maps. A lesson for us all.