21 Oct Tour de Bintan 2022 Race Report
The Tour de Bintan started its 10th edition last Friday and it was undoubtedly a memorable one for all finishers. Many of them enjoyed the scenic routes and were largely motivated by the happy cheers of the school children along the courses which kept them going through the challenging uphills and bendy turns.
More than 500 men and women signed up for the epic cycling weekend – some 50 percent were newcomers to the Tour de Bintan, and for 34 percent of them, it was their first ever cycling event. Kudos to them for completing their first race! The event has also continued to include the less competitive categories, the Gran Fondo Challenge and the Gran Fondo Discovery. These are shorter versions of the main tour’s Stage 2 and Stage 3, and account for around 15 percent of the total participants.
It was a huge honour to have Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister for Trade and Industry Singapore, and Bapak Ansar Ahmad, Governor of Riau Islands grace the Tour de Bintan 2022. After the initial flag off, over 150 cyclists rode away and onto the scenic route. The 17km race against the clock also doubled as a qualifier for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships ITT, so coveted tickets to the finals in Glasgow, UK in August 2023, were up for grabs in addition to a string of yellow jerseys.
Racing for the first time in the Tour de Bintan, Boon Kiak Yeo (Singapore National Training Squad), who was in the men’s 19-34 age group, emerged as the fastest rider of the day with a remarkable time of 23:11. Finishing just less than 3 seconds slower was Francois Ballard (Allied World Racing), also the Tour’s first-timer. As he was in the 35-39 age group, he also won a yellow jersey. The third-fastest man, Matthew Brittain (Matador Racing) was from the 35-39 category and celebrated with a podium finish.
This year, there were 2 winners from the 70+ age category. Peter Taylor who was crowned the yellow jersey, shared the podium with Anton Cheng as they celebrated their victory that afternoon. What an inspiration!
On the women’s side of the action, the ITT female winner is Ava Woo (Women’s Academy). The Singaporean recorded a time of 28:24, which was half a minute quicker than the next fastest girl, Jennifer Choi (BTCC). Third best overall and a further 22 seconds back was Faye Foo (Women’s Academy).
Greeted by the clear blue skies, our cyclists started warming up at Simpang Lagoi at 7am. There were food bazaars, club tents, and music creating a festive atmosphere for all.
The Indonesian Maritime Bintan Corp and marching band performed the national anthem and it was time for 138km Gran Fondo Classic. With the race doubling as a qualifier for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in Glasgow, UK, in August 2023 the competitive vibes were high The men were split into a number of pelotons of various age groups, while the smaller women’s field started in one bunch.
The fastest man of the day for two consecutive days, Boon Kiak Yeo (Singapore National Training Squad), raced in the men’s 19-34 category with a record time of 3:33:45. Just less than half a second slower was Francois Ballard (Allied World Racing) 35-39 age group, who retained his yellow jersey. The third-fastest man, Calvin Sim (Cycleworx) 19-34, made the podium for the first time this weekend.
Among the ladies, Faye Foo (Women’s Academy) emerged the fastest with an impressive time of 4:23:39. Our ITT female winner yesterday, Ava Woo (Women’s Academy) came in second place just half a second behind. The next fastest girl, Long Xin Cheong (Women’s Academy) was one tenth of a second further back. Faye Foo and Ava Woo retained their yellow jerseys for their respective age categories, while Long Xin Cheong celebrated a podium finish.
This year, there were a lot of first-timers joining the 82km Gran Fondo Challenge. The fastest man of the race was Almy Hanggara with a time of 2:20:00. Up next came Jecky Aswar Wahab and Nolan Ng (PCC), with only one-fifth of a second splitting them. The ladies did a fantastic job too! Shannon OConnell clinched first in 2:46:00. Sian Dunkley and Alethea Kerk were second and third respectively, only two seconds apart.
The day ended with a lively tour dinner at Grand Lagoi Hotel, where the prize presentation ceremony was held. It was lovely meeting all the participating teams and watching all the cyclists sharing their experience in Bintan.
Day 3 opened with cooler conditions, as the 113km Century departed Plaza Lagoi. The action kicked off quickly after the 4km neutralised start with Calvin Sim (Cycleworx) and Tong Khoon Fung (Singapore National Development Squad) making an early break as soon as the race was flagged off. They stayed off the front until the 108km mark, when on the last hilly stretch, they were caught by the fast-charging peloton. This chase group got an extra boost when the breakaway from peloton 2 bridged across and joined them. The big peloton competed for the win in a high-speed sprint with Yeo Boon Kiak (Singapore National Training Squad) scoring his third victory for the weekend.
Third across the line and first in the 35-39 category was Francois Balland (Allied World Racing), who also completed a hat trick of wins. From the 40-44 and 45-49 category cyclists that bridged across, it was Rueben Bakker (Allied World Racing) and David Wilkins (Specialized Dynasty Mavericks) respectively, that took the win. In the peloton with the age categories over 50 years old, it was Keiichi Hayashi (Allied World Racing) who won by a tyre width over Ray Hanly to take the 50-54 crown. Third across the line and first in 55-59 was Jock Hughson from ANZA. Other category winners of the stage were Graeme York (ANZA, 60-64), Christopher Cheng (65-69) and Peter Taylor (70+).
The women’s race was one of attrition, with Jennifer Choi (BTCC, 35-39) taking top honours out of a group of five, beating four riders from the Women’s Academy. Ava Woo (Women’s Academy) took victory in the 19-34 category. The two Matadors Van Doug and Shirley Teo drove the win home in the 40-44 and 45-49 categories. Final honours for the women went to Gillian Li in the 50-54 category.
An enthusiastic group of Discovery riders also took to the roads, for a 55km non-competitive ride. Daniel Stokes (ANZA) pushed his wheel across the line first in a sprint with Jim Dela Cruz and Suwanda Almaja (Mighty Riders). Just like Saturday, the fastest woman was Shannon Oconnell, closely followed by Alethea Kerk and Sian Dunkley.
The 2022 Tour de Bintan concluded on a high with a prize presentation ceremony at Plaza Lagoi. The cyclists, with their families and friends, basked in their achievement of completing such a challenging event, as they enjoyed the friendly vibe that had hung throughout the epic weekend. With the prize presentations done, many of the cyclists were heading home with the coveted tickets to the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships. However, there was still time for two more awards, those for the best overall women’s and men’s teams. Women’s Academy took that honour among the women, and the men’s team award went to the Specialized Dynasty Mavericks.
The Tour de Bintan will return for its 11th edition next year. With such a huge success this year, it will be no surprise that there will be plenty of familiar faces next year alongside all the newcomers. See you next year!