The Tour de Bintan is back bigger than ever for 2018, with dozens of teams from all over Asia and beyond represented. The usual Singapore-based squads such as Allied World Kemp Technologies, Anza Cycling, Ascenders, Greyhounds, Integrated Riding Racing Team, MatadorRacing, Specialized Roval Mavericks, TWC Racing Team are in, and they are joined by the likes of Strive Cycle Training (Perth), Project 852 (Hong Kong) and Specialized Roval Racing (Shanghai). Indonesia is also well represented, with Sampah Cycling Company and KGB among the local squads.
However, due to the small age group bands in operation for the Tour de Bintan and other GFWS events, teams don’t tend to play as big a role as they might in other races. For instance, one of the best riders in the region, Bastian Dohling of the Specialized Roval Mavericks, will only have one teammate to help him in the 35-39 category. Dohling will still be one of the favourites, but he’ll have stiff competition from the likes of Singapore national rider Gabriel Tan.
In the 18-34 category, one team might dominate, though. TWC Racing Team has eight entrants and the squad of strong young Singaporeans are all no doubt in the service of Firoz Loh, the two-time Singapore junior road racing champion. Mike Koreneff (Allied World-Kemp Technologies) will provide stiff competition for Loh, even if he is riding on his own.
The 40-44 category also has two stars riding solo; Konstantin Fast (Roojai.com) and Pierre-Alain Scherwey (Allied World-Kemp Technologies). They might have to team up to counter the Specialized Roval Mavericks who have five riders in the category, including the 2017 champ in the 35-39 age group, Chris Reynolds.
Defending champion Ben Arnott (Specialized Roval Mavericks) will be the big favourite in the 45-49 cat, especially as he just won the Men’s Open title at the Tour of Phuket last weekend. David Creegan (Roojai.com) might be his main competition.
In the 50-54 category, two names jump out. The formerly Singapore-based Youcef Cummings has returned to Asia for the race having won a major season-long competition in Germany last year. Chris Glasby from Perth was probably the strongest rider in the cat last year, but a puncture on Stage 2 put him out of contention. He’ll be looking to make amends.
The women cyclists all race in one peloton for the Tour de Bintan, and with last year’s dominant riders Yiwei Luo and Serene Lee absent, that leaves the door open for others to star. Watch out for the strong Perth-based Amanda Nabi and Singapore national rider Michelle Ho (Team Next Stage). An interesting one to watch is Filipina pro triathlete Monica Torres.