Brunei’s only professional road cycling event, originally scheduled for 23-29 September, will not go ahead for the third successive year, raising severe doubts about its future.
Near-perfect racing conditions usually provide solace to pro cyclists but, to rivals of Tabriz Petrochemical Team, it meant fewer opportunities for race leader Hossein Askari – going into today’s 104 kilometre stage with a 24″ advantage – to come unstuck.
Time bonuses from winning today’s fourth and longest stage elevated Terengganu Cycling’s Mohd Harrif Saleh onto the GC podium. Race leader Hossein Askari still maintains a 24″ lead over his nearest rival, Duc Tam Trinh of Vietnam, with one day of racing remaining.
As expected, Iran’s Tabriz Petrochemical Team and Malaysia’s Terengganu Cycling Team have been asserting themselves as key favourites in the general classification but, at the race’s mid-way point, the Vietnamese team of second-placed Duc Tam Trinh is showing itself to be no easy pushover.
How does it feel to take a lukewarm two and a half hour bath? Most of the 106 pro cyclists that lined up for today’s 117.4km second stage on the flooded streets of Brunei’s capital city were able to finish knowing the answer, with Tabriz Petrochemical Team’s Hossein Askari the first to towel off.
Damp conditions and a low average speed meant the sizzle was somewhat absent in Tour de Brunei’s 93.1 kilometre opening stage. Somewhat ironically, having left from the factory compound of race sponsor Butra Heidelberg Cement, it may have seemed as if riders were racing through wet cement.
As professional road cycling continues to spread its global wings, it has been fascinating to witness the number of Asian, Australian and Kiwi cyclists breaking into the top echelon of professional road cycling; sometimes via quite long and convoluted pathways. Today, Cycling iQ looks at where “home” is for Asia’s top riders.