PETALING JAYA: It will be an acid test for Anuar Manan and company as they look to end a nine-year medal drought for Malaysia on the final day of road competitions in the Asian cycling championships in Sharjah today.
After three days of competition, Malaysia still do not have a medal to show as Nurul Ahmar Badeuzzaman and Noor Azian Alias finished fifth and sixth in the women’s 97.2km race yesterday.
The hope is now on the in-form Anuar to make a successful bid to become the first medal winner in the road race discipline since Nur Affendy Rosli took bronze in 1991 when Malaysia hosted the championships.
Anuar stamped his mark as the first Malaysian stage winner in the Tour of Langkawi in February and reinforced his growing reputation by winning two races in the Tour of Thailand last week.
The team manager for the road squad, Kamarden Ali, said that the flat profile of the 162km route favoured a sprinter like Anuar.
“This route is to his liking. It is flat all the way and there are no hills,” said Kamarden from Sharjah.
“If there is anyone he has to watch out for, it is Japanese Taiji Nishitani, who also won a stage in the Tour of Langkawi.
“It will be crucial for the road cyclists to bring back a medal as it will also see them getting the nod for the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games later in the year.”
No Malaysian has won the gold medal in a road race in the Asian championships and much will depend on the ability of Anuar’s team-mates – Mohd Zamri Salleh, Mohd Adiq Husainie Othman (pic), Ahmad Fallanie Ali, Ahmad Haidar Anuawar and Nur Rizuan Zainal – to support him to make the final breakaway.
“The team with the right tactical move will prevail and we have something in mind,” said Kamarden.
Meanwhile, the track squad, led by world championship silver medallist Azizul Hasni Awang, arrived in Sharjah yesterday.
The 23-member squad who will compete in the senior and junior ranks were to leave for Kuala Lumpur just before midnight but their flight was delayed for several hours after the cargo door malfunctioned.
The track competitions begin on Wednesday.