Cycling: New OCBC Cycle Road Race lifts riders' spirits; start of 4-race series to identify Singapore's No. 1

While most participants gave the thumbs-up to the inaugural OCBC Cycle Road Race, some expressed concern at the tight U-turns on the race route, which might have posed a threat to safety.
While most participants gave the thumbs-up to the inaugural OCBC Cycle Road Race, some expressed concern at the tight U-turns on the race route, which might have posed a threat to safety. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

The chance to secure a national ranking and bragging rights were up for grabs, but for most participants at yesterday's inaugural OCBC Cycle Road Race, just being able to compete was a joy in itself.

Yesterday's race at Seletar drew 314 cyclists, comprising junior, masters, leisure and elite riders. It marked the start of a series of four road races, where cyclists can accumulate points to become the nation's No. 1.

Nanyang Technological University second-year undergraduate Mun Yong Liang, 23, welcomed the appearance of the series, saying: "The cycling community is excited, because there have been so few road events here, and there have been almost none for the past two years.

"But I'm glad things are picking up again and it's a good start to see more events being held.

"Hopefully it's not just for road racing, but for mountain bike and BMX too."

Local riders also relished the challenge of racing alongside their foreign counterparts.

Wong Wei Yuet, 33, a teacher who raced in the 42km Men's Open, said: "I was trying to see today if my race craft is there and how it compares with other racers. The expatriates are the strongest ones inside the pack and we are forced to push up our game."

The Men's Open was won by Briton William Kingsley in 57min 6.213sec, ahead of compatriot Craig Cameron (57:06.368) and Malaysian Razif Salleh (57:07.363).

In the 36km Women's Open, Singaporean rider Wendy Yap, 44, was first in 1hr 1min 50.317sec, edging out Australian Christina Liew (1:01:50.722) and British cyclist Elizabeth May Hodges (1:01:50.952).

While many were happy with the race, some expressed concern over the tight U-turns in the 6km lap, saying they posed a threat to safety.

In reply, the Singapore Cycling Federation (SCF) said it would be looking at ways to improve the racers' experience. It said in a statement: "This includes the feedback that more can be done to address some sharp turns.

"Safety is of paramount importance and rest assured, the SCF will not compromise on this for future events - off and on the road."

SCF president Jeffrey Goh was pleased with the turnout, saying: "We're creating a vibrant riding scene. This is a platform where local riders from the clubs, polytechnics and tertiary institutions can learn from the experienced riders and each other. It's not all locals, if not it'll be a kampong race. Foreigners bring the level up."

Cycling trainer Sebastian Varguese, 38, called for more races in the series.

He said: "In a proper series, there are about eight races. How are we supposed to identify and test the field of talent when there are so few races to begin with?"

The four-race series will include May's OCBC Cycle National Road Championship and the OCBC Cycle Speedway Club Championship.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2016, with the headline 'New road race series lifts riders' spirits'. Print Edition | Subscribe