PROFESSIONAL cycling outfit Team Sapura Cycling (TSC) is gearing up for the New Year with hopes of carving a spot for themselves in the top 20 for the International Cycling Federation (UCI) Asia Tour.
After finishing in the top 30 in their debut year (2017), TSC manager Mohd Sayuti Mohd Zahit is ready to kick-start the year with some changes to the line up.
On the local front, Adiq Husainie Othman and Mohamad Nur Aiman Mohd Zariff and Muhamad formerly of Terengganu Cycling Team (TSG) will join five other riders – Akmal Hakim Zakaria, Fitri Saharil, Izzat Hilmi Abdul Halil, Muhsin Al Redha Misbah and Muhammad Zawawi Azman who participated in the 2017 SEA Games.
The five local riders remain after achieving targets set by Sayuti for International Cycling Federation (UCI) 2.2 classification races, which includes six podium finishes.
Also new to the team are three foreign riders: Australian Jesse Ewart, German Mario Vogt and Swiss Dylan Page. They join the ranks of last season’s Aiman Cahyadi from Indonesia as well as Wilmar Jahir Perez and Victor Nino Corredor, both from Columbia.
“For our first year, we feel that we are doing well so far, because it isn’t easy getting a podium in UCI races,” Sayuti said during the Sepang International Circuit Motorsports Free Day.
“Our dream is to move up from continental division three to professional continental then Tour de France in about six years while also trying to qualify for Tokyo 2020, so we will start pushing the riders to collect points from this year (2018).
“We want to focus on Malaysian riders but as a new team, we also want to be competitive on the Asian level,” Sayuti said, referring also to Japan’s Team Ukyo who are among the top Asian teams.
“But most of the teams that come to Asia are also European. And once our local riders have established themselves, we will slowly reduce the number of foreign riders,” he added.
Sayuti, a SEA Games gold medallist, also said preparations for Tour of Indonesia as the first race of the year had begun with riders conditioning themselves and racking up mileage since early December.
“After that, we will be going to Turkey before returning to Asia for Le Tour de Langkawi and Tour of Taiwan and back to Europe in April.
Aiman, 20, said it was good to be back in training after a few weeks off. “I have no problems adjusting to the new team,” said the second- youngest rider in the team of 13, who capped off his 2017 season with TSG during the Tour de Singkarak in Indonesia last November.
“I’m happy with my time today considering the month-long break we had,” he said after finishing with a time of 14 minutes 10.979 seconds over two laps of the Sepang International Circuit (SIC) for the UCI Pro category time trial event.
“Right now, I’m looking to qualify for the Commonwealth Games, so my target is to get in the top three in the Asian Cycling Championships for the ranking points.”
SIC chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Razlan Ahmad Razali, who presented the prizes to the winners said despite the timing of the event (Christmas Eve), the turnout was good, with more than 400 participants for both cycling and running events and more than 500 people turning up for the “Motorsport Free Morning” event.
“The event marks the last event for the year and I think overall, feedback has been positive and everyone enjoyed themselves.
“It is definitely good for both the sports and is one way for us to get close with the people. It is something we would like to get into in the future, maybe organise our own unique cycling and running event,” added Ahmad Razlan.