Team Singapore vying for top spot against reigning champion team
Team Philippines (left in blue jersey), Team Malaysia (centre in yellow jersey) and Team Singapore (right in red jersey) at the press conference of the OCBC Cycle Speedway Championships at Millennium Hotels and Resorts’ Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel. (Photo Credit: OCBC Cycle)
SINGAPORE, 30 September 2016 –
1) OCBC Cycle SEA Championships
SIX national teams from Southeast Asia (SEA) are in town to battle it out at the OCBC Cycle Southeast Asian Speedway Championship 2016. The teams will pit their skills and wits against each other over three rounds of exciting races on 1 October at the Singapore Sports Hub. The reigning champions, Team Malaysia, have set their sights on retaining their title.
The six national teams competing this year are:
At a media briefing held at event partner Millennium Hotels and Resorts’ Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel, the six national teams were split into two groups for the two preliminary races, which will be followed by the semi-finals and then the final.
The top two teams from last year – Malaysia and Singapore – were first assigned to different groups to level the playing field across the competition. The remaining four teams – Brunei, Cambodia, Myanmar and the Philippines – were then divided evenly between the two groups; the random allocation was made via a draw by the team captains of Team Malaysia and Team Singapore.
The national teams were drawn into the following groups:
This year, Malaysia have fielded Muhammad Fauzan Bin Ahmad Lutfi as the sole member from the team that took first place at last year’s championship. New team members include Nik Mohd Azwan Bin Zulkifle and Amir Mustafa Bin Rusli, both part of the Malaysian team that came in third at the Tour of Thailand earlier this year, while 23-year-old Sofian Nabil Omar Bin Mohd Bakri, a track endurance rider who is part of the Malaysian Track Team, and 20-year-old Akmal Hakim Bin Zakaria, a member of the NSC Macron Cycling Team, round out the lineup.
With Singapore, who bagged second place at last year’s championship, there is also just one returning rider: Junaidi Bin Hashim. He is joined by 26-year-old Ho Jun Rong, who placed second at this year’s OCBC Cycle National Road Championship (Individual Time Trial), and Raymond Quek, who secured a third place finish in the Men’s Masters category at this year’s OCBC Cycle National Mountain Bike Championship, as well as newly-recruited national cyclists Gabriel Tan and Muhammad Irsyad Marican. Tan managed a seventh place finish in the 2016 OCBC Cycle National Road Championship 2016 (Individual Time Trial), while Irsyad, who will be a reserve for the squad, placed fourth at the OCBC Cycle Road Race (Men’s Open) earlier in March.
Team captain of Singapore, Ho Jun Rong, said, “The goal coming into this competition is to win. We have reflected on our performance in 2015 and have a strategy. Training with the new squad has been good, and as with any other new team, our focus will continue to be on getting the fundamentals right. We’ve done as much as we can; we are hyped up and ready to race,”
Brunei, who took third place in last year’s championship, will again field Azmi Bin Abdul Hadzid and Abdul Hadrie Morsidi. The latter is best remembered for the intense tactical battle he waged last year against Singapore’s Low Ji Wen; he eventually finishing ahead of Low by half a bicycle length. Unfortunately, however, Brunei then incurred a 10-second penalty by dismounting from their bicycles only after crossing the finishing line into the dismount zone, instead of dismounting before crossing the line. This relegated them to third place.
Other members of the Bruneian team include Muhammad Rafiuddin bin Zikara and Abdul Mu'iz bin Hj Yuzaini, who both represent the Laila Manja Cycling Team; they are joined by Andrew Mikha bin Sianong, who was identified during the national road series after a top five placing in the overall individual standings.
The Philippine team is led by the Ronda Pilipinas 2016 champion, Jan Paul Montealegre Morales. He is joined by the Ronda Pilipinas 2016 runner-up, George Luis Oconer, and compatriots Bon Axel Enorme, Gerardo Amar and Marko Alab Samwel Guinto Adviento.
Another returning team to look out for is Cambodia. The squad includes Yoeun Phyuth, who came in first in the country’s 2015 National Championship. He is joined by Phoung Sophy, Nhonh Lenh, Seng Kheang and Kim San.
Myanmar has fielded a team anchored by the winner of the MSP Nyapyitaw 2015 (120km), Soe Thant. He is joined by Aung Phyo Min and Aung Phyo Paing, the runner up and second runner up of MSP Nyapyitaw 2015 (120km). Their other teammates are Kaung Htet Thar and Zin Lin Ko.
Prizes of $6,000, $4,000 and $2,000 will be awarded to the first, second and third placed teams respectively.
2) OCBC Cycle Club Speedway Championship
The OCBC Cycle Club Speedway Championship, which is the fourth race in this year’s hotly-contested OCBC Cycle Series, will see nine local cycling clubs field 15 teams. For them, this event will be their last chance to improve their standings as they vie to be the nation’s best cycling club. That result will come down to the total points racked up by each club’s four best performers in the individual rankings of the four events.
The Singapore Cycling Federation (SCF) had announced this first-ever structured national ranking and points system in February, a move aimed at enhancing the vibrancy of the local cycling scene. The OCBC Cycle Road Race on 13 March was the first race in the 2016 season. This was followed by the Individual Time Trial on 22 May, and then the Criterium on 29 May, in the OCBC Cycle National Road Championship.
Cycling club Specialized Mavericks is represented by three teams at the OCBC Cycle Club Speedway Championship this year. They can expect a stiff challenge from one of Singapore’s oldest cycling clubs – Geylang Cycling Team – who clinched second place in the OCBC Cycle Club Speedway Championship in 2015. Specialized Mavericks lost to them by just one second to take third place in last year’s championship.
The 15 local cycling teams were split into three groups for the three preliminary races, which will be followed by the semi-finals and then the final.
The teams were drawn into the following groups:
Club spokesperson of Specialized Mavericks, Alan Grant, said: “We are very excited to be racing at the OCBC Cycle Club Speedway Championship again. It’s always great for us to race on home soil where we can try to put on a good show for our sponsors and Singapore-based supporters. As for leading the season-long 2016 OCBC Cycle Series, a good performance this weekend will hopefully see us clinch that ‘Best Local Cycling Club’ title. We would be very honoured if we could pull that off. We are very aware of the tough competition we will be facing. Geylang Cycling Team will definitely be one of the favourites, and we’re sure Allied World will have a strong team, too. Our strategy is simple: Race hard. In addition to our normal team training sessions, we have been down a few times to practice on parts of the course.”
In April this year, Grant smashed the Singapore record for the longest distance covered on a stationary bike by completing 217.2km in six hours. The recordbreaking event was held in conjunction with the launch of OCBC Cycle 2016.
SCF Honorary Secretary, Dr Hing Siong Chen, said: “The national ranking point system which was introduced at the beginning of the year has definitely helped to create a more vibrant cycling scene in Singapore. We have seen more than 679 cyclists come forward to participate in three OCBC Cycle Road Series events in their quest to become the nation’s top ranked cyclist. Through their participation in the road series, as well as from a national talent identification programme we introduced in the early part of the year, we are happy to have been able to shortlist a pool of 38 national road cyclists, comprising 30 men and 8 women, to now train as a national squad.”
“The squad has been busy preparing for the upcoming OCBC Cycle SEA Speedway Championship, and, looking further ahead, to qualify for the SEA Games scheduled for August 2017. The OCBC Cycle Club and SEA Speedway Championship will also allow us to further identify more local talent from the club races and gauge the standard of our own national team when pitted against the strong field of Southeast Asian teams,” Dr Hing added.
If – after the OCBC Cycle Club Speedway Championship – there are clubs that are still tied for points overall, the result will come down to which club had the most first place finishes, or (in the event of another tie), the most second place finishes, and so on. The SCF will hold a separate event later this year to present the prizes to the winning club and top individual overall.
More details can be found on www.ocbccycle.com.