Cycling: Singapore's Shirley Teo pushes through cramps to claim women's Gran Fondo New York Indonesia overall title

Shirley Teo (centre) lifting her GFNY Indonesia trophy in celebration after winning the overall female title.
Shirley Teo (centre) lifting her GFNY Indonesia trophy in celebration after winning the overall female title.PHOTO: SHIRLEY TEO

SINGAPORE - The finish line was nowhere to be seen. With more than half the race to go - 91km to be exact - cramps had started to set in.

However, Shirley Teo rode through the pain to claim the overall female title at the Gran Fondo New York (GFNY) Indonesia race. She was eighth last year.

The Singapore cyclist covered the 165km route around Lombok in 5hr 53min 18sec.

"I was surprised that I won because I cramped at 74km," she told The Straits Times on Tuesday night after retaining the women's 40-44 title. "I was thinking that there's no chance to even (make the) podium. I was struggling. When they called my name, it was a good surprise."

The result also allowed her to qualify for the final race in New York City in May next year.

The brainchild of couple Lidia and Uli Fluhme, GFNY was founded in 2010, and held its first race the following year. Since then, it has expanded to 13 other countries.

The competition challenges its top-level participants to a 100-mile (160.9km) route from New York City to Bear Mountain.

During Sunday's race, Teo found motivation from her boyfriend Daniel Smith when she was struggling.

"It was my boyfriend's birthday and we wanted to see if we could keep our positions from last year. We wanted to work hard for each other," she said.

Last year, Smith, who is also the president of local amateur cycling team Matador Racing, finished first in the men's 40-44 category. On Sunday, he placed first in the men's 45-49 category (4:18:07).

That time allowed him to improve from 13th to fourth in the overall category. Malaysian Raziff Jaafar was the overall champion (4:17:56).

Despite expressing a desire to race in the New York City finale, Teo, an office administrator, says she has to confirm that she has sufficient leave first. However, the wheels will continue to spin.

An avid cyclist, the 42-year-old will continue to train six times a week, for up to 15 hours in total for her next challenge - the Sept 23 BP MTB Jamboree in Batu Pahat.