PUTRAJAYA: Spain-based Ng Yong Li emerged as Malaysia’s best performer in the 173km individual road race of the Asian Cycling Championships – but there was disappointment written on his face afterwards.
The 21-year-old Yong Li’s hopes of competing in the Asian Games by merit were dashed when he finished 20th with a time of 4’13:24. Only a top three finish would have won him a spot under Category A.
Iran, who dominated the race throughout the 13 laps, bagged the gold through Mehdi Sohrabi with a time of 4’08:27.
Thanks to last minute sprints, Japanese Fukushima Shinichi and Hasanin Omar of Syria managed to overtake three Iranians for the second and third spots respectively.
Yesterday, everything went wrong for Malaysia’s budding road racer.
Yong Li arrived from Madrid only three days ago. On the eve of the race, he suffered bruises on his leg after a freak accident at the hotel.
Yesterday, he was left to shoulder Malaysia’s challenge all alone in the front pack after his teammates were unable to keep up the pace.
“My teammates were not there when I needed them. Iran had five riders at the front. It was difficult to try and keep pace with them when I was alone in front.
“I had no choice but to just follow the first group,” lamented Yong Li.
However, he has one last shot at making the cut for the Asiad. He will compete in the World Junior Championships in Salzburg, Austria, next week.
Said coach Aminudin Sulaiman: “Our mistake today is that a few of our riders got stuck at the back after the second lap. It put so much pressure on Yong Li and Haidar (Anuwar). Then Haidar’s tyre blew.”
Despite finishing the three-day tournament without any medals, the seniors may still get to go to the Asiad under Category B, said Malaysian National Cycling Federation (MNCF) deputy president Datuk Naim Mohd.
“Unlike the track riders, none of the road racers have qualified for the Asian Games. But most of them are young and it will be good for them to get exposure,” said Naim.
Malaysia ended their challenge in the road races with only one medal through junior Fatehah Mustafa, who won a silver medal in the 13.3km individual time trial.
Yesterday, fatigue finally took its toll on the youngster, who had been competing in both the track and road races. She had bouts of vomiting and finished 17th in the 53.2km with a time of 1’30:16.
Her teammate Sulha Sulaiman did better, finishing a creditable fourth with a time of 1’29:13.
Individual road race
Senior 173km (13 laps): 1. Mehdi Sohrabi (Iri) 4’08:27, 2. Fukushima Shinichi (Jpn) 4’08:27, 3. Hasanin Omar (Syr) 4’08:27; Selected: 20. Ng Yong Li 4’13:24, 37. Mohd Shahrulneeza Razali 4’25:53, 38. Raziff Jaafar 4’25:53, 42. Mohd Nor Umardi Rosdi 4’25:53, 55. Suhardi Hassan 4’25:54, 60. Ahmad Haidar Anuwar 4’25.56.
Junior 53.2km (4 laps): 1. Thatsani Witchana (Tha) 1’29:12, 2. Mariya Slokotovich (Kaz) 1’29:12, 3. Kim Eun-hee (Kor) 1’29:12; Selected: 4. Sulha Sulaiman 1’29:13, 13. Musleha Salim 1’29:16, 17. Fatehah Mustafa 1’30:16, 18. Masziyaton Mohd Radzi 1’30:54, 20. Ruszatulzanariah Mohd Yusof 1’34.06.
(Note: Nurul Norizawati Mohd Sharif was one of four cyclists eliminated from the race for taking a short-cut and not completing the full race course).