The Singaporean Roadie had the opportunity to test his mettle once
again on a sunny Sunday, 6th April, 2003. The original criterium course
was supposed to be at the rolling roads of eastern Sentosa. However, due
to construction work in the vicinity, the location was rendered unsuitable
for racing. Fortunately, the Changi Business Park was available for the
local wheelers to settle their racing scores.
THE RACE COURSE AND FORMAT
The format was a timed criterium - each category rode for N minutes. At
the end of N minutes, extra laps were added. During those N minutes, the
field can either hammer each other into jelly, or cooperate and cruise
around. Due to the short nature of the course, however, no cruising was
going to be expected.
This time, SACA managed to close the roads off entirely - no outside
traffic was seen on the roads. Furthermore, a rolling enclosure complete
with motorcycle outriders were present - one in the front and one in the
back! (I say, maybe SACA does read my reports and rants). Well done! Hope
we can get this level of organization in the future.
Like most Business Parks, the road was a loop. The loop is best
described as a round-bottomed flask with curvy walls. In the center was a
puddle of water which the Developer probably calls a lake (for feng shui?).
The Park is still in the early stages of development - the land was mostly
leveled and barren - allowing a persistent wind onto the course.
At the start line, one proceeds on a twisty course to a 180-degree
turn, back on another twisty course to a bridge that had two lane. We were
to take the outer lane, leading to wide corners (and confusion amongst
heat-exhausted riders who took the inner lane sometimes!). Once the racer
makes it past the bridge, it was about 200m to jump to the finish line.
This bridge corner was KEY to winning the sprint.
There were mixed feelings about the nature of the course and the
difficulty of the race. Since the course was flat and smooth, it was going
to be easy for the peloton to stick together. It fell upon the stronger
riders to try and force the pace. Many teams wanted to start fast and get
a group away.
Samuel Yang (1st, Open, Liquid Elements):" I didn't
like the part where Lippy fell. It was not as attention grabbing as the
sharp right bends where everyone would take caution and slow down. This particular
section was an S bend where one won't foresee any danger. ... After the
crash the speed dropped to 30kph."
Although not really a sprinter, Samuel still managed to win the mass
sprint. About his sprint victory, he had this to say:" It was a
mass sprint in the end. Cruising speed upped to 56kph. Nick came by from
the right pretty fast. I jumped onto his wheel. He was first into the last
turn. Coming out of it, Nick continued to accelerate. I was behind his
wheel. With around 50-100m to go, I stood up and came by him. I won the
sprint. I was in the right position at the right time. "
After Lippy's crash, it was obvious to spectators that Samuel was
feeling quite horrible. He was drifting off the back. However, with
encouragement from Per Stromblad (trek), he pulled himself together for
the win. Samuel said he would give Lippy the yellow jersey that he won in
this race as well as prize money. His final statement: "I
dedicate my win to Woon Lip. I wish him a speedy recovery. Watching your
own team mate fall is a depressing thought, to be involved in the crash
just makes it worse."
Nick Swallow (2nd, Open, Cycleworx): "The course I felt
was very safe, the surface was good, a couple of fairly fast corners to
add some interest, no traffic. Too flat for my liking but I guess we'll
make up for that later at NTU and Sentosa."
Nick is well known for some very aggressive racing. This time, his
plans were no different. "My plan was to start fast and try to
get a group away...", he said. When Nick attacks, the other
riders had better respond. On the major break of the day, Nick had this to
say:" The best break of the day I think was around midway when I
attacked on the back straight and managed to get a good gap rigth away.
Seah Teck Wee and Scot Kor bridged up and we worked well together for
several laps. But with strong riders left in the group and still half an
hour left we were brought back."
About his missed victory, Nick was philosophical. This is how he
remembered his finishing meters: "Coming into the last 200m I was
in front but could see a rider was on my wheel. I put my head down and
drove to the line but was running out of steam. Samuel Yang came off my
wheel with 50m to go and just edged past me. He was perfectly placed and I
guess I gave him a great lead out! I've always disliked crits and have
never been any good at them so I am quite pleased with this result."
Kale Buonerba (2nd, Sports, Independent): "I actually
really enjoyed the course. With only 3 real turns it was a bit relaxed as
far as crit courses go, but I certainly felt much safer the way it was. It
may have been a bit more fun and interesting if the turn over the bridge
was tighter (using the inside lane)... For a crit though, it could have
use more turns, tighter turns, or both."
Kale is an animator of the Sports Peloton. In the last race at LCK, he
was one of the constant attackers and drivers of the peloton. In this
race, he was up to his old tricks. Kale said this about his breakaway:"
I saw Jeffrey Lee lead the parade around for a lap or so... around 25
minutes or so I got into a break with 5 others and the pace came up
nicely. Very soon we had a decent gap on the main field.".
The breakaway was so successful that they could play chess in the last kilometers.
Kale's recollection of it:" The last two laps were very slow as
people were maneuvering for position. On the back straight Melvin Seow got
out front about 100m or so from the bridge and pushed real nicely. He led
over the bridge, then me. After the bridge he just kept charging and took
it. Nice job. Despite how much the bridge played into the end of the race,
I still have to say he definitely deserved the win, awesome ride!"
Ben Tang (Veterans, Liquid Elements): Ben is part of the
establishment in local veteran racing. At this race, he felt that his
fellow racers did not conduct themselves in a manner worthy of their age."
Generally riders got their heads hit, their jerseys pulled and vulgarities
were shouted - this happened to Bernard Chua, whose jersey was pulled and
his head hit and I received lots of verbal abuse when i got to the
Ben was quite put off by the "tactics" employed by his
opposition. He recalls:" There was also a lot of dangerous riding
- riders would like deliberate cut into another rider's path in order to
prevent riders from bridging to the runaways as well as to control the
front. Vulgarities like 4 letter words shouted to those to tried to go to
the front and attempt to pull away."
Ben's final judgement: "I think this is contrary to the
principle of winning on one's own strength or on using clean tactic."
Porky (6th, Sports, t@):"I found the circuit quite easy
to ride being flat and all. The race was up b4 I knew it. The only problem
i had was that being a left **** heavy guy, I found turning right
problematic and almost ran off a few times. When the Airborne Guy set off,
chased by Jeffery Lee and others. Managed to stay with them at average
46-47kph. 6 of us in the break away." (NOTE: There was a
bit of confusion here. John Clark remembers that it was Fadzli who made
the first move. Hmmm, Porky must have been watching Kale too closely!)
Porky is your typical t@ flat-lander. Like a 20000 tonne train on the
flat but still finding his way in the sprint. He recalls his finish:"
The final sprint was abit of a cock up for me. Was blocked into 6th place
by aggressive position holding into the final 2 corners. in retrospect
should have jostled for position b4 the corners. I'm not aggressive
Kerrie Crisp (1st, Ladies, ANZASCG):"The course was
good and not too technical for experienced racers. I personally like a
highly technical course as bike handling through corners is a strength. My
tactics were to stay up front and out of trouble. I am confident in my
skills in a crit so thought I would just stay ahead of the other girls and
sprint out of the last corner which is what happened."
Riding in the Veterans bunch, Kerrie still managed to finish high. "
I think I came around 6th overall but was taking it easy in the last
corner...I just had to stay ahead of the other girls."
Teo Woon Lip(Crash Victim, Open, t@):"I don't like
criteriums. The lines kept changing and many times I had to yell out to
those in front to watch out... I think this calls for an early
retirement." Say it ain't so!!!
THE OPEN CAT RACE
Here, there was some surprises. The timing of the Sports and Open Cat
races were swapped at the last minute - this time Open Cat riders started
first, relegating the Sports peloton to the hottest time of the day (at
11am). The second surprise was an increase in racing time by 15 minutes.
Not that the increase in time was ever going to make a difference. (NOTE
John Clark pointed out to me later that the details had been changed on
the website and posters two weeks earlier. Well maybe, but the originals I
received had me and some others thinking the timings had been fixed. Grrr.
Someone's not sending out their corrected timings).
The number of Open Cat racers were smaller this time - about 20 guys.
Geylang-Cannondale, Trek/t@/Liquid Elements, Schroder and Cycleworx were
there as teams. Plus a host of Independent riders.
The racing started hard at speeds of 42-44 kph immediately. Lippy, Per
and Samuel took turns to keep the speeds high, stringing out the peloton.
The first few corners were taken gingerly by the racers, as they tried to
identify the depressions and best lines around the course. Because of the
curvy nature of the course, the lines kept switching and required the
handler of the machines to be constantly alert. After a few laps the turns
were taken at speeds of about 40kph!
Lippy was very aggressive in the start. After about 6 minutes, he got
into a little break of about 6-7 seconds with Scott Kor of
Geylang-Cannondale. They could not work very smoothly and soon enough were
brought back. By this time a couple of riders were already left
floundering off the back.
The best break of the day actually came from Nick Swallow(Cyleworx),
Seah Teck Wee and Scott (both Geylang-Cannondale). With three strong
riders, this breakaway had the potential to stay away or even lap the
field. However, trek/t@/LE immediately sensed trouble and put all their
horses on the front to reel the breakaway back. Samuel, Lippy and Per
worked smoothly together until the break was absorbed.
It was shortly after the absorption that the unfortunate crash
occurred. On one of the wavy lanes, the lines switched to the right.
Samuel in the lead kept his head down to maintain tempo and keep straight.
In doing so, he inadvertently squeezed into Lippy's line. Lippy said he
remembered brushing Samuel's front wheel and in the heat and speed of the
moment, hit the pavement, bringing down Evan Kwek (Cycleworx). Evan
managed to make it up and ride off but Lippy was warded at Changi General
At this point, the race became a bit steady as riders lost interest in
taking risks. Some weaker riders made opportunistic attacks but could not
get away. The field resigned itself to a mass sprint. On the back
straight, Per led Samuel out at about 58kph. Sitting behind the big Swede
was like sitting behind a truck. He was rapidly overcoming the field with
Samuel in tow when coming into the last corner, Nick Swallow shot around
Per and Samuel. Samuel reacted in time to grab Nick's wheel. Nick took the
corner bridge at speed and was on the leading edge of the field. However,
he faded in the last few meters and Samuel managed to come off his wheel
for the win. Teck Wee, Colin Pearson (ANZASCG) and Per took the remaining
THE SPORTS RACE
t@ had far fewer riders in this race. Illness, job, family, and pet koi
commitments took a lot of t@ riders away. Beef, Stick, Bruce and Porky
were there to wave the jersey.
A typical Sports Race with a slow start. A few failed attacks occurred
in the first half Halfway through, Mohammad Fadzli (Rodalink), attacked
and was bridged by Jeffrey Lee (Cycleworx), Melvin Seow (Liquid Elements),
John Clark (Cycleworx), Kale Buonerba, and Porky. This was the race and it
went up the road when the breakaway members gave it some stick. Although
they never lapped the field, the y were never caught either.
They had such a good gap on the field, they could take the last two
laps to play cat and mouse with each other. Melvin Seow proved to be the
strongest with a late charging attack into the bridge corner. He came out
of it at full steam and kept it up to the end. Kale came in 2nd. followed
by Jeffrey, Fadzli and John Clark.
Porky rounded off the finishing group. Is this the Pork's last race?
(His pregnant wife is about to "pop" a new piglet into the
world.... and when that happens he's going to have to take time off biking
THE VETERANS RACE
We had only one representative in this race, Diesel. He was off the
back for most of the race, but I think t@ is still proud of this geezer
because when he started riding with us he could not ride that long or that
far. It takes guts to go line up with guys who have been riding for years.
The Singaporean veterans were taken by surprise by ANZASCG. The ANZAs
had the numerical superiority, numbering almost half the field, and they
were not shy about imposing their presence. At the start line, they
dominated the front row while local racers queued at the back, hoping for
a slower start. The hammer fell immediately at the start and the racing
began in earnest.
When the ANZAs had got their men in the front, their following riders
satup. This release strategy worked like a charm, squashing the chances
for the rest of the peloton. The breakaway formed very quickly which
included Holmes, Kratz, Robinson and Coghlan (all ANZASCG), Bernard Chua (Schroder),
and Sharman (Independent). When the break formed, the ANZA vets literally
formed a wall slowing down the field. The pace in the front remained high
until only Sharman and Holmes were left in the front.
Richard Tan(Cycleworx) and Ben Tang(Liquid Elements) both tried to
individually bridge up to the breakaway, but were shadowed each time by
different ANZAs. Later, they admitted that the tactic was very
demoralizing. Bernard was at this time, content to sit in the bunch and
capture the sprint. Meanwhile, Robinson was watching him to ensure that
Schroder did not attempt to bring Bernard up again.
In the final run-up, Sharman attacked Holmes into the bridge. Although
Holmes managed to catch Sharman after the bridge, Sharman proved the
better sprinter. In the bunch sprint, Holden was leading the pack after
the bridge until he pulled his foot off the pedal allowing Bernard Chua to
get 3rd and maintain his GC position.
The veterans race was an educational race with the ANZA formation using
their numerical superiority to smother the opposition. Although they lost
out in the final two-up sprint, it was generally agreed that they played
their cards well. Watch out for the next few races and see if the local
riders can come up with a counter strategy.
Overall, most riders felt that the course was a good one. I generally
enjoyed taking the corners at speed after having been working on coming
down South Buona Vista and Mt Faber in recent weeks. It was damned bad
luck that Lippy had his crash.
There were small scenes of unpleasantness reported. Apparently certain
SACA officials have taken it upon themselves to shout at participants of
road races. This type of behavior is not going to go down well with the
peloton and the next SACA Annual General Meeting is going to see some
fireworks. Stay tuned.
So what's next for the local peloton? A large number of riders are
currently preparing for the ADD Tour of Thailand scheduled for next month.
But with the current outbreak of SARS, it probably is not prudent for
Singaporeans to travel around the region. It would be such a waste to peak
in a "barren" period! But such is life.
I was a bit irritated before the race - that was because when I woke up
I found that HALF my pre-race fuel had been consumed by my brother for a
late night snack!!!! Next time, I'm going to have to keep my food under my
bed. I rode slowly from Ghim Moh to Changi and felt really good. My legs
were feeling strange - not much feeling in them, but they felt they could
turn on the gas. This was going to be my downfall, because it led to a
"break-through". I feel like I'm peaking now, after 6 months of
clean-living and high pain tolerance. I recover very quickly from hammer-fests
on the local training rides. Still, I think this higher level of fitness
led to a classic case of over-reaching.
At around minute 15, I noticed a general slowing down of the peloton.
No serious attacks had materialised at this point. I took the chance and
jumped. I gave it a lot of gas this time. Actually I gave it too much gas.
I ruptured my engine. I saw a new maximum heart-rate: 198 bpm. The highest
I had ever seen in two years of riding is 192 while doing intervals on Mt
Faber. This was virgin territory!
And like a virgin, I flopped it in my very first major attack in an
Open Cat race. I actually got a pretty decent gap of over 10 seconds
according to Porky. I rounded the bridge solo, and kept hammering. I
actually thought I could shut down and pace against the peloton and was
taking a drink when the pack came up. The field roared up like a
multi-wheeled behemoth hunting for crazy breakaway riders. Hmmm, Yummy
t@ breakaway morsel. chomp! chomp! Swallowed me whole and spat my
remains out the back! My sprint for the draft was so weak, it was not even
funny. Recovery from 188 yes. 192 maybe. 198?! Like I said. Virgin
territory. Till next time, thanks for reading.