Nail-biting finish sees the Philippines emerge winners from largest-ever field at OCBC Cycle Speedway Southeast Asia Championship
The cycling team from the Philippines rode a near perfect race as they beat the strongest field to date at the 2019 OCBC Cycle Speedway Southeast Asia (SEA) Championship on Saturday morning.
Held at the Singapore Sports Hub, the fifth edition of the electrifying event welcomed Team Vietnam to the fray for the very first time, pushing the number of participating Southeast Asian teams to nine. This set the stage for an interesting battle between some of the region’s top cyclists, including the likes of Malaysian Nik Mohd Azwan, Filipino Jan Paul Morales and Vietnamese Trinh Duc Tam pitted against each other.
The popular OCBC Cycle Speedway Championships’ race format features teams of four cyclists each, riding a total of 10 laps in pairs around a flat one-kilometre course. Two cyclists ride five laps before handing over to their teammates for the remaining five laps. The times of all four riders is then averaged for the winning time.
This year’s final, contested by the teams from Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines, witnessed an early frenzy as each team took turns at the front of the pack during the first laps. After the mid-race changeover, the teams were still evenly matched as they battled for supremacy.
Heading into the last lap, the teams pulled off the strategic move of letting their strongest sprinters go head-to-head against each other in what was a pulsating sprint finish. The powerful sprinters from the Philippines proved too formidable as they edged out the competition, crossing the finish line at 19:19.550.
“I didn’t expect our team to win. The race was very close, and we had to ride slower due to the slippery road. Thankfully, we managed to overtake them in the last leg, as we put our fastest riders in the back. I’m happy that we won, as this year’s race was especially competitive.”John Mier, captain of the Philippines team
Early favourites Malaysia and surprise package Vietnam had proved their mettle in the qualifying rounds and semi-finals, breezing into the final with the best times.
However, despite their best efforts, they were unable to carry that momentum in the championship race. Second placed team Malaysia clocked a time of 19:19.580, while team Vietnam came in third with a time of 19:20.483.
“Coming into the competition, wewere confident that we could win the finals. We were leading in the first half of the final sprint and we could have led in the second half as well. We will be back next year with the same strategy. We trained every day before the fasting month, and it got a bit tiring during the fasting month. This year’s competition was tough, and we were very lucky, especially when the final round has all the favourites – Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia.”Mohamad Fauzan, captain of team Malaysia
Phan Hoang Thai, Vietnam captain, said, “I am very surprised with this year’s race. This is our first time participating and we gave our hundred percent. My team and I will be back next year to compete and win this race.”
More details on OCBC Cycle 2019 can be found on www.ocbccycle.com .