Eyeing the Inaugural OCBC Cycle SEA Speedway Championship 2015
Malaysia underlined their status as the dominant force in cycling in this region after they won the inaugural OCBC Cycle Speedway SEA Championship in convincing fashion yesterday.
Powered by double SEA Games gold medallist Mohamed Hariff Saleh, the Malaysians led from start to finish in a three-way final race against Singapore and Brunei at the Sports Hub.
The quartet - comprising Hariff, Mohamed Saiful Anuar Aziz, Muhamad Adiq Husainie Othman and Muhammad Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi - clocked a time of 18min 44sec, far ahead of Singapore (22:44) and Brunei (22:54) to win the 10km race.
The teams were among the first to race in a new format. Two riders of each team would tackle the first 5km, followed by the next pair.
The team's time would be clocked when the last rider crossed the finish line.
If the Malaysians were unfamiliar with the format, they certainly did not show it, as they surged to about a minute ahead of the rest of the pack by the halfway mark.
"It seems like I can always do so well and win races here," joked Hariff, whose love affair with Singapore continues after his feats at the SEA Games.
Malaysia coach Sebastian Duclos felt that the race was won by adopting the right tactics.
He said: "We made sure that all of our riders kept up with one another, opening up a big gap right from the start, and staying focused throughout the race.
"I hope they can do well not just in the region but also in Asia."
There was drama surrounding the second- and third-place finishes. Entering the home stretch, Brunei's Abdul Hadrie Morsidi had crossed the finish line narrowly ahead of Singapore's Low Ji Wen.
But Brunei were later docked a 10-second penalty for going beyond the dismount line at the changeover, thereby lifting Singapore to second spot.
"It's probably the most tactical race I'd been in.
"But it's a big change from what we are used to and it's refreshing," Low said.
The two-day OCBC Cycle event concludes today with the mass-participation races - the 42km Sportive Ride and 23km The Straits Times Ride.