Cycling: Myanmar the surprise winners of OCBC Cycle Speedway South-east Asia C'ship

Thant Thiha Dway of Team Myanmar, who led his team to first  place at the OCBC Cycle Speedway South-east Asia Championships.
Thant Thiha Dway of Team Myanmar, who led his team to first place at the OCBC Cycle Speedway South-east Asia Championships.PHOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE - The were so confident of winning the OCBC Cycle Speedway South-east Asia Championship, that captain Anuar Manan said he saw "no problem" in them coming out tops in Saturday's (May 5) races at the Singapore Sports Hub.

Only, there was a problem as the Malaysian team literally tumbled out of the competition at the qualifying round.

One of the team's four riders, Muhammad Elmi, crashed at a roundabout during the qualification race, resulting in them lagging behind their rivals and failing to qualify for the finals.

With them out of the running for the title, the unfancied team from Myanmar posted a shock victory, pipping last year's champions the Philippines.

Even though Myanmar was not the quickest team in the final with their time of 20min 40.317sec, they topped the standings because of time penalties imposed on the Filipino, Thai and Singaporean sides for infringements during their dismount and mounting of bicycles.

In the Speedway Championship, each team is split up into pairs and each pair cover five laps on a flat 1km stretch along Stadium Drive.

Philippines ended up runners-up with a time of 20:49.680, after a 10-second penalty, while Thailand was third on 20:49.907, also after a 10-second penalty.

Singapore finished in fourth place with a time of 20:59.737, after a 20-second penalty was added.

Myanmar team manager and coach Aung Myo Naing said: "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 change over in the transit area."

Philippines team captain Cris Largo Jovan lamented: "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."

Added Malaysia team manager Mohd Rizal Tisin:

"The competition this year was good and we had very strong competitors... We will also be more careful and come back stronger next year."

In the OCBC Cycle Speedway Club Championship, local club Specialized Roval Mavericks regained the title they won in 2016. They had finished runners-up last year.

Yesterday, they finished ahead of Allied World Kemp Technologies and MatadorRACING, who finished second and third, respectively.

The OCBC Cycle continues on Sunday with the Community Rides, which will see cyclists participate in 23km The Straits Times Ride and the 40.8km Sportive Ride held at the Sports Hub.