OCBC Cycle Speedway Women's Championship to finally make its debut this year

SINGAPORE – Having cycled together for over a year, triathlon coach Charlene Tang and her friends decided to form a team to take part in the inaugural OCBC Cycle Speedway Women’s Championship last year. But their plans were scuppered as the event was cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A year later, Tang and her teammates will finally get their chance to race as the event will make its debut as part of this year’s OCBC Cycle 2021, which was officially launched on Thursday (March 25) at Shimano Cycling World, Singapore Sports Hub.

It was disappointing to miss last year’s edition, said Tang, 27, adding: “But it’s a good thing that we could train together so not everything was lost.

“We want to put in an honest effort, have fun and just enjoy racing all over again. If we do well and win it, that’s a bonus, but this ultimately is a milestone to say that things are getting back to normalcy and we get to race again.”

Two other competitive categories will take place on-site. They are the OCBC Cycle Speedway Club Championship and the OCBC Speedway Corporate Championship.

All three events – registration fee is $300 per team – will see teams of four split into pairs with each duo covering five laps on a flat 1km stretch along Stadium Drive in a relay format.

Twenty-eight teams are expected to compete across the categories and the races will be held on May 29.

Singapore Cycling Federation president Hing Siong Chen said: “Many cyclists have been training hard to prepare for the return of on-site races for more than a year now.

“I’m certain that they will be very pleased with the return of OCBC Cycle Speedway Championships and use it as an opportunity to put their skills to the test after putting in long hours of training.

“It’s heartening to see that OCBC has worked hard to organise the event with safe management measures in place – all in a bid to support the local cycling community during this challenging period.”

With the Ministry of Health on Wednesday announcing that more fans will be allowed into pilot spectator sports events approved by Sport Singapore (SportSG), OCBC’s head of group brand and communications Koh Ching Ching hopes to bring back a controlled number of spectators for the Speedway races.

Under the pilot, up to 750 fans will be able to enter the venue for events that carry out pre-event testing, while a maximum of 250 fans will be allowed for events that do not implement testing.

She said: “Given safe distancing and that this is outdoors, we will have to see how we can manage that. At least for every cyclist or club, we may want to allow them to bring a certain number of supporters to come.”

While organisers will have to submit a proposal to SportSG for approval, the national agency’s chief executive Lim Teck Yin believes that it can be feasible for fans to be present at the Speedway Championships.

He said: “They certainly can invite spectators, but what’s important is the measures that are put in place to manage the crowd. As long as spacing and the parameters of what is allowed is followed, it’s not problem.

“An event like this that is held in a closed loop is conducive because you have at least a big stretch to space everyone out.”

More on this topic

The mass participation rides for this year’s OCBC Cycle will remain virtual. Two new categories – the 100km and 200km Virtual Ride – were added after participants gave feedback that they wanted to cover longer distances.

Registration fees are $22 for the 100km event and $25 for the longer distance.

Koh said: “Cycling enjoyed a boom during the Covid-19 outbreak with many looking to take up the sport seriously. The longer distances will appeal to segments of cyclists who aspire to cycle further and test their limits.”

The other categories are The Straits Times Virtual Ride (23km) and The Sportive Virtual Ride (42km), while children or families can sign up for the Mighty Savers Kids Virtual Ride (5km). Registration is free for all three.

For the virtual races, participants must complete the required distance in four rides or less from May 15 to June 13.

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