2002 Team Absolut Review.
Team Absolut is certainly growing in numbers and strength. Who woulda
thunk it? From a wacky collection of misfits into a leaner, meaner racing
machine. On the road racing front, Team Absolut has had exponential
growth. As one of the hard core TA roadies, I can say, we have made
amazing progress, both individually and as a team. Last year, only Sandman
and I would be at the road races. Starting in 2002, however, we never
fielded less than four riders for every SACA road race. This year also
marked an increase in competitiveness in the Sports Peloton with more
teams and more buccaneers. Our favorite Opposition, the Schroder was
always there with a new team, Liquid Elements. Geylang made an appearance
in the Sports Cat again only for the final race of the year. At the same
time, Independents like Ong Chuan Tee, made the sprints really
competitive. Furthermore, this year SACA implemented a points system for
the races of the entire year and that really stoked our fires as we wanted
to capture the GC of our local "World Cup" series.
To be honest, TA must be one of the most PR intensive teams in
Singapore. We have a damn Flash(y) website with flying images and crazy
stories (mostly by yours truly) and pix of racing action. Our pictures
rival even those on the SACA website. We even have car decals!!!
Furthermore, this year, we got a "team" jersey. Of course, the
limited jersey market meant that Geylang also adopted our jersey later in
the year. We even had sponsors providing partial sponsorship. Our sponsors
this year have been:
Treknology Bikes 3
A private backer
While we are truly appreciative of our sponsors, we are hoping next
year, we will get full sponsorship. After all, we're busy training our
butts off so that your product logos can appear on podiums and in the
front pack of the weekly training rides at Rodalink and Thomson.
TA Racing roster
As with every recreational racing team, members come and members go
with the ebb and flow of life's tides. This year Spiderman was badly
missed after he graduated and began his career in the army. He scored
Absolut's first road race podium position in the NTU, and was a factor in
the Sentosa race in April. However, he has had to stop riding ever since
he was in the army. Last I heard, he was applying for transfer to some
branch of the army where he would have more time to ride and train. Good
luck and come back soon!
We also picked up quite a few temporary racers. Of note have been
PocketRocket, Mongoose, Frederik and Martin Roessler. PocketRocket and Mongoose were
back visiting during their summer vacation when they hooked up with TA for
fun rides. PocketRocket ended up doing the Lim Chu Kang race for TA where
he scored a 6th in the mass sprint. Another medal placement for TA.
PocketRocket and Mongoose also brought along a "professional"
tool for the LCK race - race radios. Unfortunately, we had no time to
train with them and they were not put to good effect.
What can I say about our German friend, Martin? He flies. For a guy
coming into Singapore for exchange studies of only a few months at NUS, he
has adapted very well to the climate here. POWER should be his middle
name. And for an encore, Frederik, who rides TTT on his Mountain bike!
We also picked up a former SEA games medallist (in bowling - see why TA
should form a half-way house for the malcontent? we're busy converting
tri-geeks and bowlers into roadies), Fangio (man, from PosterBoy to
Fangster to Fangio - this guy has more names than a cat has fur). Keep
your eye on this kid. He's got heart and is damn motivated (plus he has me
as a training buddy so he can't go wrong there!!!)
Our regular guys like Giddyap and Porky (who is now a Flying pig) have
been improving and learning even more team tactics. And of course Sandman
went to the vets and scored a 3rd at the Lim Chu Kang race).
EARLY SEASON RACING
This was the period from January to May. We had two SACA races, the
first at NTU and the second at Sentosa. There were also two races in
neighboring Johor - a criterium and a 100km road race. TA got a third at
NTU (Spiderman) and got a first at Sentosa (Lippy). TA was invisible in
the Johor races as we missed the criterium entirely and the road race was
a washout with only guy (dat's me!) completing the race before they
stopped taking time. Something to keep in mind for next year's training -
building a peak for the months of February, March and April where all the
interesting races seem to be held.
MID SEASON RACING
Boy, this is the doldrums. Where only 1 race is available in June, an
individual time trial. Lippy scored a third in this race and the race for
the Sports GC was started in earnest. It was during this time when Lippy
began to be Spidey's heir apparent in the TA Sports strategy. Constantly
in the breakaway for the Rodalink and Thomson rides while burning the legs
of fellow Absolutees in the Thursday Torture Train and Saturday Morning
Madness (AFTER a warm up ride of 50km first!). Around this time, he was
also called up to the National Team training rides and next year, he will
probably be the first Asbolutee to wear Singapura colours!!! Woohoo!
LATE SEASON RACING
The final races to cement the lead in the GC was the Lim Chu Kang
points race in August and the NTU race in October. The team time trial
event was in September and had no effect on GC. Lim Chu Kang was an
eye-opener. A big field of about 40 riders in the Sports Cat, we in TA
talked and talked about how to control the race. Unfortunately, with most
Absolutees coming from a Mountain biking background, tactics were less
than exemplary. Absolutees were spread all over the pack and never
sufficiently concentrated enough to deliver a proper lead out train or
breakaway. Well, we live and learn.
The team time trial in September was a good sign of our current form
and of how much further we have to improve. We came in 7th out of 12
teams. Personally, I thought it was disappointing that we could train
together only once and next year, we really have to train a lot more and a
lot more seriously. Slut pride is at stake here.
The NTU race was the season finale. Lippy trailed Chuan Tee by two
points in the GC and it was a matter of attacking to regain the
initiative. To be honest, we went into the race with the sole intention of
making the race so hard that the chaff would pop and the GC threats to
Lippy would be eliminated. We were helped in our objective greatly when
Chuan Tee took matters into his own hands by attacking the group on the
first lap itself. With a group of 15 riders, we have 7 Absoluts, four of
whom finished. Lippy came in third for the race and secured his GC win.
2002 has been a good year for a team of recreational riders in their
first year of real road bike racing; capturing the sport GC and with medal
placings in every event (save the Team Time Trial, which is still a sore
spot with me). Personally, I've grown quite a bit in terms of tactical
sense. I've also made a lot of new friends both in and out of TA and am
loving the sport even more. I love the sensation of riding in a pack and
listening to the huffing and puffing and the sound of the mechanicals
working. I love it even more when we're in a breakaway with the pack
desperately chasing down your butt. What a great sensation. What a year.
Next year, racing dynamics would be different. Lippy and I would be
upgrading to the Open Category to race with the true roadies. TA Sport
will have to find a new champion and a new racing dynamic. Who will step
forward? Will Spiderman return? Or will our half-way house uncover yet
another gem? Stay tuned - 2003 will be exciting and tough.