Returning for its second season as a UCI Continental team, OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling has bolstered its ranks with the signing of 2010 Tour of California KOM Thomas Rabou, whilst retaining impressive regional talents such as Thailand’s Phuchong Saiudomsin and 2012 Tour de Filipinas GC runner-up Sea Keong Loh from Malaysia.
Singapore’s first and only UCI Continental professional road cycling squad follows on from a self-described “eventful” inaugural season, which claimed several riders through injury but also featured high overall GC finishes in major AsiaTour races such as the 2.HC Tour de Langkawi. Though the team’s 2012 season was somewhat volatile, its backing is anything but; with regional financial services monolith OCBC Bank pledging an annual amount of SGD160,000 (USD130,000) to OCBC pro cycling team through to 2015.
As the sport of cycling continues to be battered by doping scandals of ever-increasing profile, existing and potential sponsors have sought reassurances from the world’s top teams that future hazard can be wiped from the face of professional cycling. Though Asia’s continental teams are very much “off the mainstream media radar”, OCBC has also set a precedent in becoming the first Asian squad to join the Mouvement Pour un Cyclisme Crédible (Movement for Credible Cycling, or MPCC), an anti-doping organisation formed in 2007 that continues to set, and advocate for, increasingly tougher anti-doping benchmarks for member teams and cycling in general. The team is not only endeavouring to send a clear message to its corporate sponsors, it must also ensure Singapore’s national cycling federation – an official partner of the team – can guarantee its developing cyclists the possibility of a transparent pathway through which they can graduate.
“The Singapore Cycling Federation is proud to support the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team” stated Suhaimi Haji Said, President of the Singapore Cycling Federation. “The team continues to raise the profile of the sport of cycling in Singapore by flying the nation’s flag high in events throughout the region. At the same time, they are setting a strong example for aspiring cyclists and athletes through their focus and commitment and also through their determination to work for a clean sport, as their participation in global anti-doping initiatives like the MPCC shows. We look forward to seeing the riders on the podium of the region’s biggest races this year and for many years to come.”
Wilier Triestina will supply bikes to the outfit, whilst Champion System provides the team’s distinctive kit which has undergone a significant re-design from last year. Champion System’s Louis Shih – also the co-owner of Professional-Continental team Champion System Pro Cycling – flew out from the USA especially for the team’s launch. OCBC will begin its 2013 AsiaTour campaign at the 2013 Tour de Langkawi, competing amidst a field of 22 professional teams which includes five ProTour squads.