Race provides high-profile platform for anti-drugs message

Bike Pure, the organisation commited to promoting a drug-free future for cycle sport, has announced that it has secured a partnership with the 2010 edition of the Asia’s leading bike race, Le Tour de Langkawi, which takes place in Malaysia from 1-7 March, starting in Kota Bharu and finishing in Kuala Lumpur.

Under the partnership, officials and staff of the UCI Hors Category-ranked race will wear a specially-designed version of the Bike Pure wristband to show their support for the organisation, founded in 2008 by Myles McCorry and Andy Layhe and which last year won a Social Entrepreneurs Ireland Award. Wristbands will also be given out to spectators, officials and participating teams and riders.

Race CEO Mohamed Bin Salleh said: “Le Tour de Langkawi is thrilled to collaborate with Bike Pure in support of clean cycling. As one of the biggest races in Asia, we hope that with this partnership creates fair competition and move forward into a new drug-free era for cycling all over the world.” He continued: “We are honoured to be the first Asian cycling event to be associated with Bike Pure for the purpose of protecting the integrity of cycling.”

While Le Tour de Langkawi is a government-backed race, rather than relying on commercial sponsorship, Bike Pure says that the partnership marks a huge step towards highlighting the problems that the sport is facing with sponsors looking to secure a return on their investment.

Negative publicity resulting from drugs scandals has in the past led a number of sponsors pulling the plug on their support, as Gerolsteiner did 2008 after its team’s riders Bernard Kohl and Stefan Schumacher were found to have cheated during that year’s edition of the Tour de France. Indeed, it was the doping scandals at the 2008 Tour, where Saunier-Duval-Scott riders Ricardo Ricco and Leonardo Piepolo also failed drugs tests, that gave McCorry and Layhe the impetus to found Bike Pure.

"There is a momentum for major change within cycling, fans of the sport no longer want the dopers destroying it's image. This feeling is illustrated clearly by the organisers of Le Tour de Langkawi, being the first professional event to fully partner Bike Pure and show it's commitment to anti-doping on a world wide scale," said Bike Pure.

"Major events like Le Tour de Langkawi are put together at great expense and no organisor wishes to see his event tarnished with a doping scandal. Sponsors require positive media attention, and one single rider could destroy all this investment."

Organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sport, Le Tour de Langkawi will be contested by 20 teams, including ProTour teams, Pro-Continental teams, national squads and local teams. Typically taking in a course with plenty of climbs – this year’s edition sees King of the Mountains points up for grabs during each of the seven stages – past winners include Tom Danielson and Chris Horner.

Partnering with a major stage race such as Le Tour de Langkawi represents a logical next step in its development, and is line with the organisation’s belief that for an anti-doping and no tolerance policy towards drugs in cycling to become a reality, it needs support from all involved in the sport, whether they be riders, teams, sponsors, governing bodies or race organisers.

Bike Pure has seen its membership swell to 25,000, including fans of the sport, professional teams such as the new British al-female outfit Horizon Racing and South Africa’s Konica Minolta, and leading riders including Team Sky’s Russ Downing, winner of last year’s Tour of Ireland, Team RadioShck’s Daryl Impey and Cervélo TestTeam’s Philip Deignan, who last year became the first rider pledged to Bike Pure to win a stage of a grand tour when he won Stage 18 of the Vuelta in Aviles.

Meanwhile, Bike Pure is currently putting the finishing touches to its new website, which will go live in the next couple of weeks and which promises to provide a much ore interactive experience for members, with the homepage featuring links to the organisation’s Twitter feed and Facebook page.

Until then, the existing site remains online at www.bikepure.org.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.