IVAN Sivash is not a name on everybody's lips when it comes to bunch sprints in races on the UCI Asia Tour calendar, but that could all change when the Jelajah Malaysia gets under way on Tuesday.
Kazakhstan's Sivash is his coach Yevgeniy Yakovlev's biggest hope of registering a stage win for his team, but the 21-year-old will not face an easy task.
Local fans will be screaming for Malaysian victories, while Australia's Genesys Wealth Advisers will start as hot favourites, alongside New Zealand's Pure Black Racing.
Sivash will have a point to prove given the weight of responsibilities on the team's shoulders.
Although they are registered with the Jelajah Malaysia organisers as the Kazakhstan national team, Yakovlev's squad of youngsters are from the Almaty Cycling Team.
They are from a club with ambitions of emerging into a force just like compatriots Astana Pro Team and this year they are taking major steps towards that goal.
"We have a long term plan and from now we are starting to develop the team's programme and get some good results. Our hope is to first be able to register as a UCI Continental Team next season," said Yakovlev.
The team have already achieved their first major result when Sergey Kuzmin won the Asian riders' classification at the Tour of Borneo last week.
The same squad will feature in the Jelajah Malaysia with Sivash and Kuzmin backed by Ivan Chernyavskiy, Ilya Chaplygin, Yevgeniy Sladkov and Nikolay Zaitsev.
The Terengganu Cycling Team have replaced South Korean Jang Chan Jae, who held the overall leaders' jersey until the final two stages recently, with Nor Umardi Rosdi.
The squad will be banking on sprinter Harrif Salleh to deliver victories, aided by his elder brother Zamri, who got married yesterday.
The Terengganu Cycling Team line-up includes Japanese veteran Shinichi Fukushima, national road champion Shahrul Mat Amin and Tour of Thailand stage winner Saufi Mat Senan. Arnaz M. Khairul