Cyclists get taste of F1 Circuit

Cyclists get taste of F1 Circuit
Australian cyclist Robbie McEwen (left), a three-time Tour de France Green Jersey winner, with UBS Cycle the Circuit 2013 winner Michael Tay.

Hours before the high-octane Formula One action started last night, the Marina Bay Street Circuit hosted speedsters of a different kind.

Some 200 cyclists zoomed around the 5.073km track with three-time Tour de France Green Jersey winner Robbie McEwen on Sunday morning as part of the UBS Cycle the Circuit event.

Among the field were 10 Straits Times readers, who were picked through a contest in partnership with Swiss bank UBS and F1 race organiser Singapore GP.

This is part of the Straits Times Appreciates Readers (Star) programme to reach out to the community.

"I always wondered how the drivers felt out on the track - now I have a taste of that and it's unforgettable," said top prize winner Chua Song Cher, 62, who also won a pair of Stamford Grandstand weekend tickets and a 50km ride alongside McEwen on Friday.

The field of riders on Sunday included UBS' clients and staff, disadvantaged youths and hand-cyclists. All were paced by the ultra- fit McEwen.

Crossing the Pit Straight finish line first after two laps was 37-year-old Michael Tay, who received a yellow jersey and trophy for his efforts.

"It's a cyclist's dream to ride alongside a great like McEwen and in a magnificent setting around Marina Bay. What an epic day," said the executive director of watch retailer The Hour Glass.

He finished ahead of runner-up Olivier Bernhard and Charles Jiang, who came in third.

Setting a pace of up to 55kmh, McEwen had new-found appreciation for the F1 drivers, who tackle the chicanes at three times that speed.

The 41-year-old Australian, who also participated at the inaugural event last year, said: "On a bike, I was finding it pretty tough to make the corners so, when you think about how fast those guys are going, it's incredible.

"Getting to ride on an F1 track under full race conditions was a true 'money-can't-buy' experience."

As part of its outreach efforts, UBS - a global partner of F1 - had also organised a go-kart challenge against former F1 driver David Coulthard on Friday.

It also supported a Women in Motorsport forum to push for more diversity in the male-dominated sport.

Said UBS Singapore country head Edmund Koh: "As the world's most prestigious motor racing event, the race has placed Singapore on the global racing map and attracted fans from all over the world.

"We will continue to maximise opportunities to entertain and engage our clients and the community in Singapore."

nsanjay@sph.com.sg


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