S’pore’s first professional cycling team gearing up for glory

Members of the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team (from left) Thomas Rabou, Ho Jun Rong, Lemuel Lee, Ahmad Haidar bin Anuawar, Marcus Leong, Phuchong Saiudomsin, Loh Sea Keong, Goh Choon Huat, Ryan Chan, Low Ji Wen and Timothy Lim pose in front of the OCBC Centre during the team’s media launch event on Monday.Members of the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team (from left) Thomas Rabou, Ho Jun Rong, Lemuel Lee, Ahmad Haidar …

Singapore has its first-ever professional cycling squad, the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team.

Founded in 2009 as an amateur club team to promote Singapore cycling, it is now a full-fledged professional cycling team and the premier road developmental team for cycling talent in Singapore.

At the unveiling of the new 11-man team on Monday, the team said it’s ready to better their achievements last year where they chalked up a string of impressive results including finishing second in the Tour de Pilipinas.

Team manager Justin Cheong said of the team which is made up of seven local riders and four foreigners, “We had a good first season, but I don’t believe we have achieved all we are capable of yet.

“We tasted some success last year, but this year, a major target will be to place a Singaporean rider on the podium in a UCI race,” he added.

Koh Ching Ching, Head of Group Corporate Communications of OCBC Bank, hopes the bank’s support for the team will help boost the cycling scene in Singapore.

She said: “It has not been an easy journey for the team as cycling is a relatively new competitive sport in Singapore, and it is not as high-profile as other mainstream sports like football and table tennis.

“I am glad that our sponsorship of Singapore’s first-ever team of professional cyclists has proven very successful over the years.

The sport of cycling has been rocked by Lance Armstrong’s recent confession to doping which saw him stripped of all his career titles.

One of the local riders, Marcus Leong, 23, told Yahoo! Singapore said that morals are more important than winning.

“Without a doubt, doping is cheating. Sport is more than just winning at all costs. Your morals should not be compromised,” he said.

Another local rider, Lemuel Lee, believes the problem of doping exists not just in cycling.

The 21-year-old said, “I think most sports have its own doping culture somehow. And likewise cycling has its own but I think the culture is slowly fading away and it’s great that people are fighting against it now.”

In the team’s commitment to anti-doping, they are the first Asian squad to join the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible (Movement for Credible Cycling), or MPCC, an organisation that advocates strict anti-doping rules that go beyond the existing World Anti-Doping Agency code.

Cheong added, “The OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team has a strict no-doping-allowed policy, a philosophy reflected in our decision as the first Asian cycling team to join the MPCC.

“We have instilled a strong sense of pride and integrity in the team and cheating is definitely something that we will not tolerate. The only way we believe in getting ahead is by training harder, longer and smarter than others.”

OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team: CHAN, Ryan; GOH, Choon Huat; HO, Jun Rong; LEE, Lemuel; LEONG, Marcus; LIM, Timothy; LOW, Ji Wen; BIN ANUAWAR, Ahmad Haidar (Malaysia); LOH, Sea Keong (Malaysia); RABOU, Thomas (Netherlands); SAIUDOMSIN, Phuchong (Thailand)