SINGAPORE - South-east Asian cycling powerhouse Malaysia will be aiming for back-to-back titles at this Saturday's OCBC Cycle SEA Speedway Championship.
The defending champions were drawn in Group 1 alongside Myanmar and Cambodia while Singapore, who finished runners-up last year, will face Brunei and the Philippines following the official draw on Friday afternoon at the Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel.
Malaysian cyclist Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi, a 2013 SEA Games 100 km team time-trial bronze medallist, will lead a new-look squad at the Singapore Sports Hub this weekend but was confident his team-mates had the calibre to take home the championship and the $6,000 winner's cheque.
The 30-year-old said: "We've been training very hard, almost every day, and this team have the talent to do as well as last year's side. We have to maintain our position as the No. 1 cycling country in this region."
The hosts will be led by team captain Ho Jun Rong who is desperate for the Republic to go one better than last year's effort. The 26-year-old national cyclist said: "The goal coming into this competition is to win... We've done as much as we can; we are hyped up and ready to race."
The club category will feature 15 local cycling outfits.
The teams will compete in a unique format. Four riders from each team will complete a total of 10 laps around a 1km looped course along Stadium Drive, outside the National Stadium.
The first two cyclists will tackle the first 5km before the next pair complete the race. The time taken is clocked when the last rider of each team crosses the finish line.
About 6,800 riders will hit the roads this weekend for the nation's biggest cycling event. Most will take part in Sunday's Sportive Ride (42km) and The Straits Times Ride (23km).