Unheralded Myanmar shocks the competition at the 2018 OCBC Cycle Speedway Southeast Asia Championship
OCBC Cycle Speedway SEA Championship
THE 2018 OCBC Cycle Speedway Southeast Asia (SEA) Championship bore witness to plenty of drama and suspense, as the budding cyclists from Team Myanmar emerged victorious in a talent-packed final.
Despite finishing behind the more highly-favoured teams from the Philippines, Thailand, and Singapore, Myanmar’s cyclists rode an inch-perfect race and climbed to the top of the final standings after the other teams were penalised for infringements at the changeover.
A shock exit in the qualifying rounds by two-time champions Malaysia set the tone for the rest of the OCBC Cycle Speedway SEA Championship, held at the Singapore Sports Hub. Singapore and Thailand lived up to their tags as the early favourites, finishing ahead of Myanmar and the Philippines respectively in the qualifying rounds. Laos rounded off the semi-final rounds, qualifying as the best chaser team.
In the semi-finals, Singapore, buoyed by the inclusion of SEA Games medallist Calvin Sim and Mohamed Elyas, edged their competitors Myanmar, Thailand, the Philippines and Laos to be the first-placed qualifier for the final, setting the stage for a nail biting finish.
During the final, the breakaway riders from renowned regional sprinters Thailand and the Philippines exchanged early attacks, with Singapore managing to stay close behind. After launching into the sprints at breakneck speed, the lead riders of
Thailand, Philippines and Singapore managed to stretch their lead by more than half a lap, as riders from the chasing pack executed a patient game plan with one another.
The plucky riders from Myanmar managed to stay within sight of the chasing pack but were unable to mount a serious challenge on the front three. However, the changeover saw a flurry of activity and the riders from the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore were adjudged to have made infringements during their dismount and mounting of their bicycles. This resulted in a 10-second penalty for both the Philippines and Thailand teams, while Singapore were given a 20-second penalty for two transgressions.
Myanmar finished closely behind the other three teams with a timing of 20:40.317, good enough to overhaul the first finisher of Philippines’ pre-penalty finishing time of 20:39.680 to earn their maiden OCBC Cycle Speedway SEA Championship title with a flawless ride.
Mr Aung Myo Naing, team manager and coach of Myanmar, expressed his happiness at the unexpected win: "It is an amazing feeling to have won our first title. We did not expect to win today as the other teams have better sprinters than us, but thankfully we had a clean changeover in the transit area. Every year we try to get better, and we have been training for three months for this. Our previous best result was a 4th place finish in 2015.”
Mr Aung added, “This is good preparation for us as we train for SEA Games 2019. Our whole team is currently under 23 years old, and this event is good exposure for them.”
Cris Largo, team captain of the Philippines said: “I am disappointed as we were expecting to come in first in the race. One of our riders dismounted wrongly and we were penalised for it. However, I am very happy with this experience as this is my first time racing in Singapore and in a relay format.”
Satisfied with his team’s finish, team manager of Thailand, Wisut Kasiyaphat said: “My team did very well, and better than expected! It was a good race for us, despite three teams making mistakes in the final this year. One of our riders rode too fast, causing him to pass the dismount line and was unfortunately penalised, but we all tried our best.”
Despite the disappointing turn of events, anchor cyclist Calvin Sim was encouraged by Team Singapore’s performance, stating: "Overall, I think we did the best we could and we showed that Singapore can be up there with the Southeast Asian nations. We will go back and see what we can improve and aim for the top spot next year.”
OCBC Cycle Speedway Club Championship
After a shock second-place finish at last year’s edition of the OCBC Cycle Speedway Club Championship, the Specialized Roval Mavericks Team 1 made sure to put in a dominant display to reclaim their throne as the best cycling club in Singapore.
In a tremendous display of athleticism, the lead rider of the Mavericks Team 1 established an unassailable early lead after the changeover. Never breaking his stride, the rider eased over the finish line.
However, it was up to the anchor rider of the Mavericks Team 1 to stay close to the peloton, or chasing pack, before launching into a sprint in the final laps. This proved to be difficult as the riders of Allied World Kemp Technologies and MatadorRACING weaved in and out on the circuit, each taking turns to lead. It was a treat for the bellowing crowd as the riders from all three teams finished so closely to one another that fans had to eagerly wait for the official results.
In a result fitting of the performance, the Mavericks stopped the clocks at 18:12.793, narrowly edging out Allied World and Matador. Team Anza and Specialized Roval Mavericks Team 2 finished fourth and fifth respectively in the final.
Bastian Dohling of Specialized Mavericks Team 1 said, : “It feels terrific to win this year’s OCBC Cycle Speedway Club Championship, especially having trained intensively for the past year. We’ve been riding every two weeks leading up to today’s race and had two Mavericks teams in the finals, which put the club in a great position. Despite coming in first, we did make some mistakes in our transitions this time around, so we have more improvements to work on. We hope to finish even stronger next year!”
He added: “What really took us through today’s race was teamwork, not just between the four of us but the squad as a whole. We’ve already identified some areas of improvement, and the road to next year’s OCBC Cycle Speedway Club Championship starts tomorrow!”
Adam Nelson of team Allied World said: “The OCBC Cycle Speedway Club Championship is one of the highlights of the racing calendar in Singapore, and something we earmarked in our calendar since last year. It’s great to have such support from OCBC, the Singapore Cycling Federation and the government in promoting cycling. Over the past few years, we are seeing more events and opportunities for people to get into cycling, and that is very encouraging for us as a team.”
Daniel Smith of MatadorRACING said: “Our team was racing in Thailand last week, so we did not have time to look at the course until two days ago. In fact, most of us rode this course for the first time this morning. We encountered many difficulties, since most of us are actually climbers instead of sprinters. It was a tough race for us, but we really enjoyed the event and had good fun participating with all the other teams. We look forward to improving in next year’s OCBC Cycle Speedway Club Championship and seeing more exciting cycling events in Southeast Asia in the coming year.”
Companies pedal off on closed roads tomorrow
The OCBC Cycle 2018 continues tomorrow morning at the Singapore Sports Hub with the Community Rides, which will see cyclists participate in The Straits Times Ride (23km) and The Sportive Ride (40.8km).
A new feature at this year’s The Sportive Ride is a corporate category, The Corporate Chase. The flag-off wave in The Sportive Ride will consist of companies forming teams of four employees each, to compete on the closed-roads. The company whose team has the fastest combined net time completing the route will be crowned the OCBC Cycle Corporate Chase champion.
More details on OCBC Cycle 2018 can be found on www.ocbccycle.com .