Having been through hell and high water, this year marks a momentous year for Sofian Nabil Bakri when he seized the white jersey to become the best Asian Rider at Le Tour de Langkawi 2019, Stage 2. From a complete novice cyclist to participating in his first UCI road race, he has made it all the way with plenty of international and local races in the pocket.
For a young man who started leisure cycling when he was 12 years old, and now comes across the changing and competitive sports scene as a national and UCI continental rider, Nabil definitely knows all the elements of his bittersweet journey which has served him a mixture of luck, failure, and triumph.
26-year-old Nabil seriously got into cycling when he was 13 years old. After riding with Terengganu State Team for two years, he moved to Ipoh, Perak for an MSN (National Sports Council Of Malaysia) Program for another two years. In 2010, he relocated to Kuala Lumpur and joined the Selangor State Team as a junior cyclist.
Hailed from Terengganu, his talent was unleashed by a cycling coach of the Selangor State Team, Yusof Nasir. Due to the training regime and management, Nabil decided to move and stay apart from his hometown for better opportunities and career growth.
Having ridden a bicycle for more than a decade, Nabil has not ventured into another sports and career. After giving the two wheels a whirl for the first time, he has been hooked by cycling ever since.
However, Nabil secretly understands that it is not easy to be a full-time, professional cyclist in Malaysia. With no source of compensatory income, the passionate cyclist has to train hard and obtain results, in order to sustain his lifestyle.
Little did we know that Nabil used to train as a track cyclist under the national team at the age of 17. However, he made a decision to quit the sport and focus on road cycling after attaining his silver medal success in his first ever Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) appearance back in 2017.
It must have been a tough decision to make, but the strong-willed cyclist knew there will always be another goal and there will always be more objectives. During his days as a track cyclist, Nabil also participated in road races as part of his endurance training, which greatly benefited his performance in the velodrome. For instance, scratch race, points race, and omnium that Nabil took part in, required endurance.
With the skills that he acquired from track cycling, Nabil is blessed with the advantages for him in road cycling. Back in 2015 to 2016, the all-rounder cyclist represented National Sports Council Team. In 2017, he was with Team Sapura Cycling. The following year, he was signed under Forca Amskins Racing.
Last June, Nabil sprinted to the third place of Malaysian Road Race National Championships 2019. It really just made him realize what he is striving for and why he has been fighting since day one – it paid off in the end.
National Championships is part of the selection for SEA Games 2019. “Having determined to be selected for SEA Games, I had to perform well. I am happy that I took the third place,” said Nabil.
This year, Nabil hopes to endeavor to more international and local races where, if the opportunity presents itself, his eyes are on the SEA Games.
“To be an elite rider, you must have strong mental. It is not always easy to ride with stronger riders. Everyone has a different strength. You must embrace the competitive spirit of riding in a big group with riders who perform better than yourself,” said Nabil.
“I hope I will be racing under a UCI continental team in the future. Regardless of the circumstances, I will not stop racing. I am still young, and I am sure my performance is still in tip-top condition.” he continued.
On a regular basis, Nabil trains hard. Even though his racing career has been a roller-coaster ride, he is thankful for having the emotional support from his family and his helpful friends who have also been a pillar of strength to him.
To Nabil, he always makes the utmost effort to improve his performance and prowess by competing with different people, at the same time learning from them. Without a doubt, the journey involves emotional and physical highs and lows, but Nabil is resolute in his fight and will always strive for more.