Teenager Brian Ng Takes the Spotlight as Crit Racing Roars Back to Singapore

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the day’s racing was the fact that the fields were dominated by local riders. Expat racers were still well represented, as has been the case over the years, but for road racing to keep growing as a sport here, it’s vital that young Singaporeans participates in big numbers. The fact that only one expat made it on the podium over the four completed races is a great sign for the future.

Grassroots crit racing returned to Singapore on Sunday (August 4) after a two-year absence as RAD Events staged the opening race of their three-date Singapore Road Cycling Criterium Series on a fast but quirky circuit out at Tampines.

While the biggest winner of the day was Geylang Cycling’s Brian Ng, who claimed the B Grade race after the elite A Grade race fell victim to the weather, the whole Singapore roadie community emerged victorious as it looks like a regular calendar of racing could be on the cards thanks to RAD.

Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of the day’s racing was the fact that the fields were dominated by local riders. Expat racers were still well represented, as has been the case over the years, but for road racing to keep growing as a sport here, it’s vital that young Singaporeans participates in big numbers. The fact that only one expat made it on the podium over the four completed races is a great sign for the future.

With five grades of racing catering to everybody from complete rookies to elite level athletes, RAD’s all-inclusive approach to the event certainly helped make it the success it turned out to be.

The E Grade contest, a 15-minutes-plus-three-laps affair which was given a descriptive tag of “experimenting”, kicked things off at 7am.

Members of the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team acted as event marshals and they rode alongside the E Grade newbies to show them the ropes.  The D for “developing” Grade contest was next and while still firmly aimed at the inexperienced, one happy rider described it as “an absolute drag race”.

The standard and pace of the racing gradually increased as the morning’s program progressed, and by the time the B Grade protagonists hit the circuit, some fast and tactical action was on display for the crowd. The A Grade race, featuring most of Singapore’s best riders, should have been the culmination of a great morning’s racing, but it wasn’t to be.

The rain that fell wasn’t the only factor involved in its cancellation. The elbow-shaped circuit at Tampines Industrial Avenue 3 featured a sweeping curve in the middle of the course and two u-turns at either end of the 2km loop. The first turn, which came about 200m after the start/finish line, was straightforward, but at the far turn, a special metal ramp had been erected to make for safe cornering. RAD had come up with this innovative concept after their request to have a road closure on Tampines Avenue 10 or use of a small section of footpath did not gain approval from the relevant authorities.

The ramp proved to be successful for the first four races, but when the rain started some 15 minutes into the A Grade race’s scheduled 50-minutes-plus-three-laps, it quickly became obvious that the metal surface was just too slippery and too dangerous to race on.

So due to the cancellation, the B Graders, who were racing for 45-minutes-plus-two-laps, ended up taking top billing for the day, and the mixed field of youth and experience put on a great show. As is the norm in crit racing, the attacks came non-stop, but none were successful, meaning a big bunch was still together when the bell sounded for the last lap. The five-strong Specialized Confero Mavericks squad took up the responsibility and drove the pace hard to try and set up their sprinter Matt Lodge for the win, but the 19-year-old Ng stayed perfectly positioned behind the Mavs and nipped out to win the sprint quite comfortably. Lodge held on for second, with Ng’s Geylang teammate Leu Kai Jun taking the final podium place.

Post-race, an obviously thrilled Ng said he wasn’t a complete rookie to crit racing but his victory was a surprise to him.

“No, I didn’t expect to win today,” the 19-year-old said.

However, following up his victory with another will be a bit harder for Ng.

“The organisers have asked me to ride A Grade next week,” he said. The prospect didn’t seem to phase him too much, though, as asked if he could win in A Grade, he simply replied with a big grin, “I’ll try”.

A sizeable and strong Geylang Cycling squad supported Ng in his Round 1 victory and he didn’t rule out some of his teammates stepping up to Grade A with him.

Ng praised RAD Events for putting on the series and sent them a simple message that will be echoed by everybody in attendance last Sunday.

“Please have more races!”

The next leg of the Singapore Road Cycling Criterium Series takes place this Sunday (August 11) back at the same Tampines Industrial Ave 3 circuit and entries are still open. Go to www.radevents.com.sg to register. The series concludes on August 18 but a great month for roadies culminates the following weekend as the Singapore National Road Cycling Championships take place out at Changi Coastal Road. More information and registration details for the National Champs can be found at cycling.org.sg/events/national-champs-road-2/.

While Round 1 of the series was a success, RAD Events will be working on improvements to make Rounds 2 and 3 even better.

Results

 

E Grade

3rd – Isaac Tan

2nd – Keefe Wong (Oldham Breakfast Club)

1st – Sean Pong (Oldham Breakfast Club)

 

D Grade

3rd – Julian Ho (Team SP)

2nd – Cheah Wei Wen (Team SP)

1st – Foo Tun Tshen (TFRiders)

 

C Grade

3rd – Ho Iz Jian Song (Cycleworx)

2nd – Leu Kai Wei (Geylang Cycling)

1st – Md Nor Hussian (T3 Racing Team)

 

B Grade

3rd- Leu Kai Jun (Geylang Cycling)

2nd – Matt Lodge (Mavericks)

1st – Brian Ng (Geylang Cycling)