SINGAPORE - He had not ridden a road bike for two years so Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin impressed many with his stamina when he completed a 59km Super Challenge at the OCBC Cycle Singapore on Sunday.
The 45-year-old former brigadier-general clocked two hours and 54 seconds.
The fastest finisher came in at 1hr 32min. Organisers were unable to provide the average time at press time but said that a time of two hours was considered a strong performance.
Tan's pace averaged 30kmh at the event that attracted 1,300 participants and wound its way around the East Coast before coming back to the Marina Bay district.
He tried out a steel Serotta - borrowed from Nominated Member of Parliament Nicholas Fang - a couple of days ago and found the seat very hard.
"But I made sure I had adequate padding today. I feel fine and I'm quite surprised," he said.
"I was expecting it to be quite painful today but, at the moment, I'm feeling quite good."
He started the race fairly quickly - even sprinting away from his security officers.
He said: "There's a cut-off time and I was actually very concerned about that because I thought it would be quite embarrassing if I didn't make it.
"I didn't know what pace I should be going at, so I pushed myself at what I thought was manageable."
Fang, an avid cyclist and triathlete, was one of those impressed by Tan's feat.
He said: "For someone who borrowed a bike and hasn't trained at all, he is very strong.
"He is so strong mentally. You can tell he was suffering but he kept pushing."
Tan, who missed last year's event due to a slipped disc, noted that the event was a good way to bond people.
He said: "We all know we live in a fairly stressful environment but sports is one good way to relieve stress and, like I said, when you encourage people to take up sports, the more the merrier."
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.