The Tour de Langkawi was conceived by former Malaysian Prime Minister Tun Mahathir bin Mohamad to put Malaysia on the world sporting and tourism map. The first race was held in 1996 and being Asia’s richest bicycle race with total prize money of RM1.1 million. In 1997, the teams Mapei and MG from Italy and the team Casino from France refused to participate in the second stage of the Tour as a protest against long delays in the delivery of their bicycles and luggage caused by insufficient numbers of cargo handlers at provincial airports in the states of Sabah and Sarawak. Organisers officially canceled the second stage, though an unofficial shortened version was held. Since then, the race has never re-visited Sabah or Sarawak. The final stage of the race was cancelled twice due to heavy rain in 2003 and 2006. During the first stage in 2004, police allowed vehicles onto the course by mistake. Riders mutually decided to neutralise the stage. In 2008, the Genting Highlands climb stage was replaced by Fraser’s Hill. Due to 150,000 visitors converging on the Genting Highlands resort area to celebrate Chinese New Year, officials would not be able to close roads along the race route to insure the safety of riders and the public. The Genting Highlands climb stage returned to the Tour in 2009.