At the beginning of 2018, the set-up of Forca Amskins Racing (FAR) came as a complete surprise to the Malaysian cycling community. However, this group of riders is no stranger in respect of their achievements, performances, and prominences to the public.
The new UCI continental team is led by the former Terengganu Cycling Team (TSG) rider, Anuar Manan who formed Forca Amskins Racing with Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Faiz Syarifuddin and Chief Operating Officer (COO), Meer Farooq. Prior to the ending of contract with TSG last year, Anuar was striving for a new team for 2018. “I was offered a position to be TSG staff. But after all, riding is still my passion and I do not wish to retire soon,” said the 32-year-old.
The idea of forming a continental team was developed in last March. At that time, the biggest challenge was the financial support. They did not have any sponsor, but with the technical expertise, experienced riders/racers, and people who have the capabilities to run the show; they started approaching corporate organizations and banks. “It was promising in the beginning, but the responses ended up subduing. It was like a dead end,” said Meer.
From outlining a proposal, forming a team, recruiting riders to looking for sponsors, the entire groundwork was done in a really short timing. In last December, they were lucky to get connected to Forca, a homegrown energy drink company, and became the title sponsor for the team. Before everything was sorted out, Forca Amskins was functioned as a casual cycling club.
“The chairman of Forca wants to promote the brand through cycling because he sees cycling as a growing sport and it will be an opportunity for him to bring his brand to the public. Previously, he sponsored football teams,” explained Meer. When the main title sponsor was confirmed, they were fortunate to have other sponsors such as Factor Bikes, Giro Helmets, Ride 100% Eyewear coming in altogether.
In less than two months, the development was confirmed by the Malaysian National Cycling Federation (PKBM) to assist the process of registration with the International Cycling Union (UCI). “We actually planned to get the team started up in 2019, however, things just got smoother than we expected,” said Faiz.
Riders in Forca Amskins Racing comprise Alvaro Duarte, Nik Mohd Azwan Zulkiflie, Wan Abdul Rahman Hamdan, Sofian Nabil Omar Mohd Bakri, Mohd Hafidz. Among others, Anuar Manan, Amir Mustafa Rusli, John Ebsen, Mohd Saufi Mat Senan are some of the top riders on the team. “We have two imported riders from Columbia and Denmark. They are my good friends. I am happy to also get Ireland-based David McCann who was in Synergy Baku Cycling Project as our head coach,” said Anuar.
After getting approval as a continental team, Forca Amskins Racing made their debut at Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) 2018 and they had set a target to create an impression and reputation in the race. Armed with experienced and professional sprinters and climbers, the main target for Forca Amskins Racing was mainly to promote their sponsors. “As we collect as many points as possible in UCI Asia Tour, we hope to achieve better position next year,” Meer explained.
In the coming years, Forca Amskins Racing hopes to accomplish the top 5 position in UCI Asia Tour in order to get invitations to more UCI races. For their long-term goal, it is important to win more races and gain more exposures. “One of our targets is to win LTdL. Along the way, we will explore the talents and recruit new riders who are suitable for the team,” Faiz continued.
Despite the tenacious sponsorship procedure, the popularity of Anuar alongside other riders are at an advantage. Everyone in the team has got a cycling background and the foundation of sports management. To Anuar who is constantly pursuing his sprinting ambition, he aims high in earning the limelight in European races.