Cycling Powerhouse & 2017 SEA Games Silver Medalist Thailand, & New-Comers Laos, Debut at the OCBC Cycle Speedway SEA Championship 2017
SINGAPORE, 17 November 2017
Eight teams from Southeast Asia will compete at the third edition of the OCBC Cycle Speedway SEA Championship. They are Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Singapore.
Debutants Thailand are looking to halt Malaysia’s dominance at the OCBC Cycle Speedway SEA Championship on 18 November. Defending champions Team Malaysia are gunning for their third consecutive OCBC Cycle Speedway crown, but they will face their stiffest challenge yet at the Singapore Sports Hub. Making their first appearance at the competition, Thailand has lined up cyclists who were part of the 2017 SEA Games cycling squad that recorded an impressive second-place finish overall.
The teams were introduced at the OCBC Cycle Speedway Draw held at Hotel Jen Orchardgateway Singapore. Two teams from each group will progress to the semi-finals. One team will be knocked out in the semi-finals before the top three teams battle in the finals to be crowned the OCBC Cycle Speedway SEA Champion.
They may be newcomers, but Thailand arguably possesses one of the top riding pedigree within the region. The team of mainly specialist criterium riders Adulwit Phosangda, Jetsada Janluang and Setthawut Yordsuwan will be anchored by star men, SEA Games medallists, Thanawut Sanikwathi and Yuttana Mano. They are looking to avenge the loss to Malaysia at the SEA Games, and win their first ever speedway crown.
Malaysia has named a largely unchanged team from last year, led by team captain and OCBC Cycle Speedway veteran, Muhammad Fauzan Bin Ahmad Lutfi. Joining him are returning cyclists and fellow SEA Games medallists, Nik Mohd Azwan Bin Zulkifle and Sofian Nabil Omar Bin Mohd Bakri, forming a formidable squad. Amir Mustafa Bin Rusli, who was also part of the team that won the competition last year, and Hamdan Bin Hamidun, complete the line-up.
Brunei and the Philippines both finished on the podium in the 2016 edition, and are determined to muster a much improved challenge to favourites Malaysia. Both teams engaged in back and forth battle before Brunei narrowly pipped the Philippines for second place.
Brunei have the title in their sights after impressive showings in the previous two editions – finishing third in 2015, then pulling off a second-place finish in 2016. Their form from previous editions of OCBC Cycle suggests that they have the potential to dethrone Malaysia as well. Azmi Bin Abdul Hadzid, Andrew Bin Sianong and Abdul Hadrie Morsidi are back in action for Brunei, and joining them is fellow SEA Games teammate, Ahmad Rifa’ie.
The Philippine team has taken a slightly different approach from their rivals at the speedway championship this year by replacing four out of their five cyclists. Despite this, third year veteran George Oconer will be boosted with the presence of his SEA Games teammates John Mier and Ronald Oranza.
After a second-placed display at the 2015 speedway championship, Singapore will be raring to be one of the top championship contenders this year. The returning anchor duo, Junaidi Bin Hashim and Gabriel Tan will be working with teammate Luqmanul Hakim, who took part in the 2017 SEA Games, for his valuable competition experience. Lukman Nurhakim completes the line-up for the boys in red and white.
Team Captain Junaidi said, "The level of competition is higher this year with the inclusion of teams like Thailand and Laos, but we have learnt some lessons from the past speedway races and we will give a good account of ourselves. Our preparations for the SEA Games in August were good and we hope to carry that momentum going into tomorrow’s race."
Entering into the third edition of the tournament, many teams are placing importance on riders’ familiarity with the route and the strategies needed to overcome it. Following the trend, Cambodia and Myanmar have also opted to select a majority of their riders with at least one speedway championship under their belt.
Laos have called upon two experienced riders to overcome their unfamiliarity with the route. Much of the expectations will fall on Thavone Phonasa and Vannasouk Lamngeune to carry them through as they raced in the same SEA Games team event and finished ahead of their Burmese and Bruneian counterparts.
The teams have been drawn into the following groups as shown:
First, second and third placed teams stand to receive prizes of $6,000, $4,000 and $2,000 respectively.
The OCBC Cycle Speedway Club Championship will feature 15 different clubs battling for supremacy as kings of the road – the biggest participation of locally-based clubs seen since the inaugural edition. This year’s roster will see the following teams join OCBC Cycle Speedway Club Championship for the first time: Allied World Kemp Technologies, Cycleworx, Guerciotti Racing Team, ICH Gemini, Matador Racing, Road Brothers, Swiss Club Riders, Team BCM and TWC Racing.
Boasting a team of experienced cyclists with overseas race experience under their belt, two teams from Specialized Roval Mavericks completed a 1-2 finish at the final, more than a minute ahead of the third placed club, Swift Carbon Virgin Active.
Team captain Bastien Dohling said, "We are looking forward to racing with more participating teams this year. It has been great seeing most teams training on the course in the early morning hours over the past weeks. This will certainly raise the level of competition at this year’s event."
The clubs participating in the race for the first time are expected to put up a good fight for the podium positions. Excitement is high amongst the new entrants about competing in a premier club-only race in Singapore for the bragging rights to be the best local cycling club.
President of the Singapore Cycling Federation, Dr Hing Siong Chen, said: "It is heartening to see the participation numbers of new locally-based clubs grow from year on year. We have witnessed some of the most exhilarating action over the past two years and this has definitely intrigued more people to join cycling clubs to be a part of the community. Increasingly, we are also seeing more youth and women picking up the sport and participating at a competitive level."
The teams have been drawn into the following groups as shown:
The OCBC Cycle Speedway Club and SEA Championships will commence at 6.30am this Saturday.
More details can be found on www.ocbccycle.com.
Participating nations at the OCBC Cycle Speedway SEA Championship
Participating clubs at OCBC Cycle Speedway Club Championship
OCBC Cycle 2017 Programme Schedule