Sri Lanka T-Cup (May 4 – May 6) UCI 2.2 Tour Race Sri Lanka
This was first time TSG participation in this 3 days event on island of Sir Lanka. Total 331km from Passikudah to Negombo. 5 Malaysian riders represented TSG, 3 veterans Harrif Saleh, Shahrul Mat Amin and Amirull Mazuki plus 2 TSG rookies Irwandie Lakasek and Afiq Othman. Stage 1, 124km rolling stage was full of attacks from the start with blistering pace as hot as the weather of over 44kph; a small group of 13 riders containing TSG’s Shahrul managed to escape from peloton and stayed away to the finish. Sharul finished a respectable 5th meanwhile stage was won by Japanese veteran Nakajima of Kinan team. Day 2 was short but very hilly 85km stage with 2 categorized climbs, Kazakhstan’s Vino-Astana Motor team set a furious pace up the hill, only 20 plus riders able to follow the pace including TSG’s Amirull. The leading group finished over 10 minutes ahead next chasing pack. Amirull narrowly missed podium finishing 4th on the day. This good performance in the mountains helped moved him to finish top 10 overall after gaining bonus seconds in intermediate sprint next day. Stage 3 122km flat stage was finally opportunity for sprinters to shine. Harrif was overwhelming favorite and he did not disappoint by winning the stage in style ahead of Astafyev of Astana Motor and overall race leader Nakajima. Especial note on excellent performance by rookie Irwandie, who helped Amirull winning the IS as well lead out Harrif for the stage victory while still finishing 4th on stage 3. Overall it was a good TSG debut in Sri Lanka with a stage victory, 2 top 5 stage finishes and top 10 GC result.
Tour de Filipinas (May 20 – May 22) UCI 2.2 Tour Race Philippines
After several years of missing Baguio City as queen stage of the race, this year’s edition finale would be decided on the monstrous 40km climb from sea level to 1450 meters. TSG’s Maral Erdene, Goh Choon Huat, Metkel Eyob, Drew Morey and Artem Ovechkin representing Terengganu color in this year’s race. Stage 1 had to be stopped half way due to chaotic traffic out of Manila, so proper race started on stage 2. Group of 16 riders escaped from the peloton including TSG’s Metkel. The leading pack worked well together and finished 3 minutes ahead of chasing peloton. Metkel delivered his 3rd podium result under TSG by finishing 3rd on the stage. Stage 3 Philippines’s Carino El Joshua did unbelievable ride finishing minutes ahead other major GC contenders and taking over race lead after a very hard 188km stage. At start of Stage 4 with penultimate stage up to Baguio City, Metkel was highest ranked TSG rider sitting 10th overall and 2’48” behind Carino. For Metkel to overtake the race lead, he has to do it on steepest slope up to Baguio. The entire TSG team had this one goal in mind, Maral and Goh worked on the early slope of the climb, as road got steeper, LTDL champion Artem took over the pace setting with Drew and Metkel on the toll. Artem’ pace had dislodged most of GC contenders but yellow jersey Carino refused to give up just yet. It was down to Drew and he managed to drop everyone including the Carino into the final kilometers for Metkel to ride solo into Baguio City with his hand raised high in air.
Despite TSG’s amazing one two finish, Carino managed to limit his loss to 2 minutes and held on to yellow jersey by 40 seconds to conclude the exciting finale. TSG wrapped up another successful Philippine campaign with 2nd overall, 1 stage victory, 2 stage podiums, 3rd overall in team classification.
Tour de Korea (May 30 – Jun 3) UCI 2.1 Korea
Each year Tour de Korea brings out some top teams from Pro-Continental circuit, this year was no exception. Wilier Triestina from Italy, Nippo Vini Fantini of Japan/Italy, United Health Care Team from USA and Israel Cycling Academy along with other strong teams from Korea and Asia. TSG lead by Zamri Saleh and Artem along with Harrif, Metkel, Maral and Choon Huat. With Zamri and Harrif not in top condition due to limited training during Ramadan, TSG focused on GC result for this category 1 event. The key stage for GC contender was stage 3 from Yeongju to Jeongseon, 192.4km stage with several categorized climbs. Into the stage’s penultimate climb at 150 km, there were only 25 riders able to follow the pace including Artem, Metkel and Choon Huat. Artem made his trademark solo attack on the early steep part of the climb with 35k to finish to distant yellow jersey Choe Hyeongmin of Korea Geumsan Insam team. Artem soloed over the climb with 40 seconds advantage over the chasing pack, but with 25km still to go to the finish 4 riders were able to bridge cross to Artem on the decent, UHC rider Serghei Tvetcov tolling Stepan Astafyew from Vino Astana Motor, Matteo Busato of Wilier and Metkel of TSG. 5 riders with 2 TSG represented made their way to finish, but Metkel cramped with only 5km to finish caused him another almost certain podium finish. Artem finished 4th on the day and maintained this GC position till the race conclusion, Metkel finished 12th and Choon Huat 17th overall. TSG completed race with 3 riders in top 20 in GC and 3rd overall in Team overall classification just 29 seconds off UHC.
With good results from Sri Lanka, Filipinas and Korea, TSG kept its 5th overall in UCI Asia Tour team ranking in June (p.s correction in UCI ranking should see TSG moving up to 4th overall and 3rd in UCI Asia team ranking)
|1||WILIER TRIESTINA – SELLE ITALIA||WIL||ITALY||1235|
|3||KINAN CYCLING TEAM||KIN||JAPAN||1141|
|4||PISHGAMAN CYCLING TEAM||PKY||IRAN||691|
|5||TERENGGANU CYCLING TEAM||TSG||MALAYSIA||662|
|6||BENNELONG SWISSWELLNESS CYCLING TEAM||BSC||AUSTRALIA||568|
|7||HKSI PRO CYCLING TEAM||HKS||HONG KONG, CHINA||547.02|
|8||ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY||ICA||ISRAEL||544|
|9||ST GEORGE CONTINENTAL CYCLING TEAM||STG||AUSTRALIA||527|
|10||VINO – ASTANA MOTORS||VAM||KAZAKHSTAN||501|