UCI 2.1 Tour Race | Date: 24th Jan – 27th Jan
This year’s Sharjah Tour in United Arab of Emirates was the first official race for TSG in 2018. It was a 4-day racing in city Sharjah close to Dubai against some of the best teams from European UCI circuit. The racing started with a short Individual Team Trial (ITT – 10.2km) then a flat stage before tackling the difficult mountain stage on Stage 3.
TSG’s climber Drew Morey targeting Top 5 GC result while the fast man Harrif Saleh focusing on Stage 2 and 4 flat sprint finishes. Stage 1 ITT, started well with Drew finishing a respectable 24th overall within 20 seconds of other major GC contenders. However, disaster struck on Stage 2 when riders in front of Drew crashed hard in the peloton and he landed head first without warning.
Drew fractured his jaw, wrist, and elbow with a possible concussion which effectively ended TSG’s GC contention prematurely. The task of salvaging the race landed on the shoulders of Harrif and the rest of team members. Into Stage 2 final kilometers, TSG riders did their best to deliver Harrif into a good position to finish just behind Jakub Mareczko and Bryan Coquard (both are world-class sprinters with Grand Tours podium finishers).
This was the first podium finish for TSG in 2018. The final day of racing was a short 99km stage with a blistering pace of nearly 47 KPH average. Harrif was behind Mareczko and Coquard in perfect position for another podium finish in the final 300m but the rider from Verandas Willems-Crelan made a last-minute surge into sprint train and pushed Harrif to 4th position.
Despite the disaster on Stage 2, TSG managed decent showing at this year’s Sharjah Tour against a strong field. Pro Asia Sports Management (PASM) is also happy to announce Drew is recovering rapidly and 2 weeks after the crash he is already back on the trainer. Also to highlight, this race was a maiden appearance for new TSG rider Irwandie Lakasek, a 23-year-old sprinter from Terengganu. Irwandie performed well-finishing 15th and 10th on Stage 2 and 4 while working for Harrif. He also finished 10th KOM classification playing a role as a sprinter.
TOUR de INDONESIA
UCI 2.1 Tour Race | Date: 25th Jan – 28th Jan
It has been 7 years since the last Tour de Indonesia. This year’s edition started in historical culture monument of Borobudur Temple in Central Java and ended on the beautiful island of Bali. 3 new TSG riders also debuted in this race including Terengganu’s Afiq Othman, Amin Zulkurnain and TSG’s first Eritrean rider Metkel Eyob. Metkel spent the last 2 years with Dimension Data Continental Team and is one of the best African riders.
Stage 1 was a 127km flat course with an average speed over 47 KPH. TSG’s Shahrul Mat Amin finished 5th in the final sprint behind Team Sapura’s Dylan Page and Amirull Mazuki taking the Points Jersey after winning the 2nd intermediate sprint.
At Stage 2, a small group of 6 riders with Shahrul broke away from the peloton in the later part of the race to finish 30 seconds ahead of Yellow Jersey holder. Shahrul finished 2nd on the day and as well moved up to 2nd overall in the race just 9 seconds behind the new race leader Gani Abdul of KFC Team.
Stage 3 was a long 200km stage, crashing into the last kilometers cost Amirull possible stage victory but he managed to retain the Points Jersey and Shahrul kept his 2nd overall position.
Stage 4, the queen stage of this year’s race on the island of Bali climbing over Mount Batur before finishing in Denpasar, Metkel attacked early in the race and leading the breakaway group all the way to the slope of the penultimate mountain. TSG’s Goh Choon Huat was impressive on the climb staying close to the leading group and finished 9th on this stage and wrapped up the Tour de Indonesia just outside top 10 in GC.
TOUR de FILIPINAS
UCI 2.2 Tour Race | Date: 18th Feb – 21st Feb
TSG finished 3rd overall and 2nd overall in the last 2 years’ editions, PASM was hoping that TSG could complete the hat trick by finishing on top of the podium this year but they needed to wait until 20th May because the race has been postponed due to landslides and flooding.
AFRICAN CONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP
Date: 18th Feb
For the first time in Team’s history, Eritrean rider Metkel Eyob represented TSG in African Continental Championship in both the ITT and Road Race. At 40km ITT, Metkel alongside 3 of his fellow countrymen averaged close to 47KPH to finish the course in 51:28, taking the gold medal for Eritrea ahead Rwanda and Algeria.
156km Road Race with some very difficult climbs made the race extremely challenging. Over 115 competitors started only 31 riders making cross the finish line. Metkel was always in the front group of contenders, his compatriot Amanuel Gebreigzabhier attacked solo before the finish. Metkel finished impressive 2nd overall outsprinting Algerian rider Azzedine Lagab.
MELBOURNE TRAINING CAMP FOR LTDL
4 TSG riders – Harrif, Zamri, Shahrul, and Goh Choon Huat were in Melbourne, Australia to prepare for LTDL. Harrif and Zamri were off to a good start with 2 victories in Cat-A races. They continued to stay and train in Melbourne with team coach Jeremy Hunt until 12th March before coming back for team launch on 14th Marc and Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) which started on 18th March.
TSG wrapped up the first 2 months of racing in 2018, ranking 10th overall in UCI Asia Tour and Top 5 among Asian teams.
From March to May, TSG’s confirmed UCI races are as follows:
18th March – 25th March – Le Tour de Langkawi (UCI 2.HC)
1st April – 6th April – Tour of Thailand (UCI 2.1)
13th – 15th April – Tour de Lombok Mandalika 2018 (UCI 2.2)
4th May – 6th May – Sri Lanka T-Cup (UCI 2.2)
20th May – 22nd May – Tour de Filipinas (UCI 2.2)
30th May – 3rd June – Tour de Korea (UCI 2.1)