SINGAPORE: In a thrilling display of speed and endurance, Thailand’s four-man cycling team, led by Olympic-bound Thanakhan Chaiyasombat, claimed victory at the OCBC Cycle’s Speedway Southeast Asia Championships on May 11, 2024.

The team completed the 10km event in a blistering 17 minutes and 47 seconds, outpacing stiff competition from Indonesia and Malaysia.

Chaiyasombat, 24, who will represent Thailand at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, attributed their success to a well-executed strategy.

The Thai national cyclist won the gold medal at the 2019 SEA Games in the men’s team road race event and won this year’s Thailand National Championship in the road race and time trial category.

“Our strategy for winning the race was to make sure that we played our cards right. There were moments in the race when we felt that we could have lost.

But we stuck to our strategy to close up any breakaways and exploited any gaps as we pushed for the finish line,” said Chaiyasombat, who teamed up with his fellow Thai cyclists Noppachai Klahan, Ratchanon Yaowarat and Sarawut Sirironnachai at the Speedway Southeast Asia Championships.

The Indonesians secured second place, crossing the finishing line in 18 minutes and 5 seconds, while Malaysia claimed the third spot in 18 minutes and 23 seconds, barely nudging out Vietnam by a margin of 0.28 seconds.

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Meanwhile, Singapore narrowly missed the podium, finishing fifth by a mere one-second margin.

For the first time in five years, the Speedway Southeast Asia Championships triumphantly returned to the OCBC Cycle.

In 2019, the Philippines emerged victorious, while Myanmar pulled off a stunning upset in 2018, claiming the top spot after several teams were handed time penalties, adding an extra layer of drama to the competition

Morgan Sparrow from Quantum Racing A taking the lead in the Speedway Corporate Championship (Photo credit: OCBC Cycle 2024)

Beyond the thrilling Speedway Southeast Asia Championships, the first day of the OCBC Cycle event also showcased the highly anticipated Club and Corporate Championships, where Quantum Racing and Team OCBC demonstrated their dominance, emerging as champions in their respective categories.

“We’re extremely happy with the great work we’ve done since the pandemic and holding onto the crown for three consecutive years. Every year is a new challenge as the younger crop of talent emerge stronger.

Our objective this year was to make it through each round.  Having a strategy to try to advance and then let the results on the track speak for themselves,” said Reuben Bekker, 43, team captain of Quantum Racing A, who has successfully defended the club crown, which they have held since 2022.

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“This year we had great competition who really pushed the entire race, all three rounds.  With our age and experience, we put ourselves in the best position to win and were able to pull off the win.”

The OCBC Cycle also included the Mighty Savers Kids and Family Rides, which saw over 300 young participants between the ages of 2 and 12 take to the roads.

Among them were 43 less-privileged children from OCBC’s Teach-a-Child-to-Cycle corporate social responsibility program. They were taught fundamental cycling skills and equipped with brand-new bicycles and safety gear.

Participants of The Straits Times Ride (20km) were flagged off by Guests of Honour – Mr Jaime Ho, Editor, The Straits Times; Mr Eric Chua, Senior Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth; Ms Helen Wong, Group CEO, OCBC; Mr Alan Goh, CEO, Sport Singapore; Mr Quek Swee Kuan, CEO, Kallang Alive Sport Management (Photo credit: OCBC Cycle 2024)

OCBC Cycle 2024’s mass rides continue to attract strong interest from the cycling community.

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On the second day of the event, more than 6,200 cyclists took to the roads at Singapore’s marquee mass cycling event, matching last year’s in-person participation record.

The newly introduced mass ride category, The Foldie Ride by Brompton (40km), sold out in the first month of registration. The Sportive Ride (40km) was sold out more than a week before the close of registration on 3 May 2024.

More than 6,800 cyclists took part in the event, including the 100km and 500km Virtual Rides.

As Helen Wong, Group CEO of OCBC, noted:

“OCBC Cycle has grown from strength to strength since 2009, showcasing different cycling formats and attracting a diverse range of cyclists.

We welcome national cyclists from nine ASEAN countries to compete in the OCBC Cycle Speedway Southeast Asia Championship, and we’re thrilled to see the event continue to catalyze the growth of the cycling culture in Singapore.”

As the in-person categories came to a close, the OCBC Cycle event seamlessly transitioned into its virtual phase, presenting cycling enthusiasts with an exciting opportunity to extend their participation in the largest cycling event in Singapore.

From May 11 to June 10, the 100km Virtual Ride and 500km Virtual Ride will continue to fuel cyclists’ passions, providing a dynamic platform for them to connect, challenge themselves, and be part of a vibrant community that shares their love for the sport.