Filipinos clinch gold at last

Slow and steady riding on slippery roads sees 2018 runners-up pip Malaysia and Vietnam

The Filipino rider biding his time behind the Thai leader en route to his team winning the OCBC Cycle Speedway SEA Championships yesterday.
The Filipino rider biding his time behind the Thai leader en route to his team winning the OCBC Cycle Speedway SEA Championships yesterday.ST PHOTO: KHALID BABA

The teams competing in the OCBC Cycle Speedway SEA Championships had not only each other to contend with at the Singapore Sports Hub yesterday, but also the bad weather.

A thunderstorm in the late morning made the roads surrounding the Kallang hub slippery, making it difficult for riders to negotiate turns during the race, which is part of the OCBC Cycle event.

But, with careful riding, the Philippines - last year's runners-up - won in 19min 19.55sec, just 0.03 seconds ahead of Malaysia (19:19.58). Vietnam were third (19:20.48).

Singapore exited the nine-team competition in the preliminary round.

In the race, a team of four cyclists ride a total of 10 laps - two riders will complete five rounds of a flat 1km route before passing the baton to their teammates - and the winning time is the average of all four cyclists.

The Philippines captain John Mier, 26, said: "We feel very happy because we did our best and achieved our goal of being the champions.

"We didn't expect the win because the other teams also had very strong cyclists.

"The rain was also a problem because the roads were slippery at the corners so we had to take care and slow down at the corners."

Mier and his teammates were second to Thailand and Malaysia - who traded leadership of the race - in the first five rounds, but fell to fourth at the changeover before the sixth lap.

But the Filipinos caught up with the leaders by the seventh round and were neck and neck with Malaysia in the penultimate round.

They clinched the title after their riders finished first and fifth in the four-team final.

"Our strategy this year was to keep our two fastest riders as the third and fourth riders and we had one man in the front and the sprinter in the back," said Mier.

Vietnam captain Phan Hoang Thai was pleasantly surprised his team finished on the podium yesterday.

The 21-year-old said: "It's our first time here and today we worked well with each other. Together we all gave our 100 per cent. We hope that next year when we come back we'll be able to win the race."

Meanwhile, in the OCBC Cycle Speedway Club Championships, defending champions Specialized Roval Mavericks Team B retained their title in 17:49.39, while GalaxoSmithKline (19:48.45) won the OCBC Cycle Speedway Corporate Club Championships.

OCBC Cycle continues today, with the mass-participation rides The Sportive Ride (42km) and The Straits Times Ride (23km) at the Sports Hub.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 12, 2019, with the headline 'Filipinos clinch gold at last'. Subscribe