OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team wraps up most successful campaign ever at Le Tour de Langkawi

Goh Choon Huat (in white jersey) and Thomas Rabou at a press conference.

SINGAPORE - THE OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team wrapped up its most successful campaign ever at Le Tour de Langkawi, with two riders topping the team's previous best finish in the General Classification standings at Asia's most prestigious road race.

Singaporean Goh Choon Huat finished 40th and Australian Eric Sheppard 24th in the General Classification (GC) standings to top Thai teammate Phuchong Saiudomsin's 46th-place finish in last year's edition of Le Tour de Langkawi.

Mirsamad Pourseyedigolakhour from Iran's Tabriz Petrochemical Team defended his 8-second lead over MTN-Qhubeka's Merhawi Kudus in Saturday's 103.1-kilometre Stage 10 to claim the overall winner's yellow jersey, as well as the Asian Classification winner's white jersey.

Aidis Kruopis from Australia's ORICA GreenEDGE won the Sprints Classification's blue jersey, while Matt Brammeier from Azerbaijan's Synergy Baku Cycling Project won the King of the Mountains (KOM) red jersey.

While the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team will not take home any of the jerseys, it featured prominently in the chase for both the blue and white jerseys in what was an eye-opening past two weeks for Singapore's only professional cycling team.

Racing against a field that included a record six Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) World Tour teams, Goh charged to a fourth-place finish in Stage 1 for the best-ever stage result by a Singaporean on the UCI Tour.

That brilliant effort propelled the 23-year-old Goh to the top of the Asian Classification standings, and he successfully defended the white jersey until Stage 4.

The team's Dutch captain Thomas Rabou then stole the limelight with a daring dash to the runner-up position in Stage 5, which also helped him momentarily earn the right to wear the prestigious blue jersey.

In addition, Kiwi teammate Rico Rogers captured consecutive sixth-place finishes in Stages 2 and 3 and later added a 10th-place finish in Stage 7.

"The boys put up a tremendous fight against a world-class field, and I couldn't have asked for anything more from them," said Justin Cheong, Team Manager of the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team.

"Seeing our riders on the podium, in the blue and white jerseys and at the front of the pack in the sprint finishes has truly inspired the entire team. We are hungry to do even better for the rest of the season."

Italian Andrea Guardini won Stage 10 in a time of 2:15:55, while Rogers (22nd) and Sheppard (52nd) finished within the peloton and were credited with the same time. Goh crossed the line in 81st place, 27 seconds behind the pace, and Australian Cameron Bayly finished in 91st place, a further five seconds behind.

Rogers ended up in 70th place in the GC standings, while Bayly finished in 91st.

Rabou succumbed to a severe case of stomach flu and did not start Stage 8, and he was therefore ineligible to continue the rest of the race.

Singaporean Ho Jun Rong, who was knocked out of the race after an unlucky crash caused by a television helicopter swooping too low towards him, is recovering well from his minor injuries and will next compete at the OCBC Cycle Singapore Professional Criterium at the F1 Pit Building on Mar 28, 2014.

Meanwhile, a separate contingent of OCBC riders, consisting of Singaporeans Ang Kee Meng, Ryan Chan and Low Ji Wen, Malaysian Ahmad Haidar bin Anuawar, Hong Kong's Ronald Yeung and Rabou will take on the Grand Tour of Algeria, which began today and runs until Mar 29.

The longest race on the UCI Africa Tour, the Grand Tour of Algeria consists of nine separate races totaling 20 stages.

This represents the farthest the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team has ever travelled to race, and it is the first team from the UCI Asia Tour to ever contest the Grand Tour of Algeria.

spanaech@sph.com.sg

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