The inaugural OCBC series opener is the first real race in Singapore for about 2 years. Despite the course being little more than a super sized crit, it was great to see such a huge turnout for the event. Open Cat had at least 65 and was packed with a lot of new local faces.
The course was on the exposed coastal road down at Seleter that the ANZA Changi ride every week. A 3km out, followed by a uturn and. 3km back to the start. The start had a kick in the tail as it involved a climb up a bridge followed by a dead stop uturn and then another climb up the bridge in the other direction. We’d do this 7 times for a total of 42km. I should add that we kicked off at 10.45am and it was hot as hell.
With Pierre suffering all week from bronchitis, the team hatched a cunning plan around the talents of Will Pratt and for once, all seemed aware of the plan and our roles.
Allied World CCN had a strong team lined up – with the majority primed for the following weekend’s Tour Of Phuket. In Open Will, Pierre, Hish, Raoul, Alex and myself lined up. Competition was strong with a lot of the old OCBC team, Geylang Racing, a depleted Mavs team and a lot of local teams that I barely recognized.
The first lap was quick – maybe a 47 km average – but the race soon settled into a standard pattern. Each lap was solid rolling pace around 43km but the real action was the two uturn points. Both were relatively narrow, 180 degree turnarounds and caused the peleton to stretch out over 100m. At each repetition, the field would string out, people would chase madly and a few would drop off the back. The uturn also caused the only crash of the race – on lap 3 when a couple of riders had a slo-mo embrace with the Tarmac.
Despite being poorly, Pierre did a massive attack on lap 1 – taking former OCBC rider Calvin Sim with him. The two of them held the field off for the first 6 laps. Having PA off the front enabled us to largely sit in and follow any moves. A blessing for me as I was capable of hanging on but little more.
PA was reeled in with about 2 laps remaining – which Will counter attacked immediately as the catch was made. Around 5 riders went with Will and a couple of Mavs bridged up at the uturn. However he was strong enough to drive the break and then take the sprint up from the front. He held off a charging Craig Cameron for a well deserved win by a couple of lengths.
I rolled in with the main pack about 10 seconds behind the winner. We finished with maybe half of the initial starters and it had been a hard hour with a 41km average speed.
The course itself proved to be excellent and the event perfectly organized. The huge crowds on the bridge being especially awesome. A very promising start to this new race series!
In total, I saw 1 Anza jersey across all race categories. Be nice to see more of the Green and Gold on display in future editions.