Teo pushes through pain barrier to clinch cycling title

Singapore cyclist Shirley Teo with her GFNY Indonesia trophy. She won the overall female title and a spot in next year’s final race in New York.
Singapore cyclist Shirley Teo with her GFNY Indonesia trophy. She won the overall female title and a spot in next year’s final race in New York. PHOTO COURTESY OF SHIRLEY TEO

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, 42, 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 last 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 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 was first in the men's 45-49 category (4:18:07).

That time allowed him to improve from 13th to fourth overall. 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.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 06, 2017, with the headline 'Teo pushes through pain barrier to clinch cycling title'. Print Edition | Subscribe