The tropical weather at the 2017 Tour de Bintan last weekend didn't spoil the enjoyment for the thousand riders set out with the aim of qualifying for the UCI Gran Fondo World Championships in Albi, next summer.
Held on the tropical Indonesian island that gives the race its name, the iconic Tour de Bintan, one of the Southeast Asia's premier amateur stage races, gained some extra lustre this year as the event became a UCI qualifier.
The opening two stages of the race - Friday's Individual Time Trial and Saturday's Gran Fondo Classic - were qualifying events for the world championships in Albi next August.
Cyclists from all over the region flocked to Bintan for the weekend of racing. Big groups of riders from Singapore and Hong Kong were in attendance as usual, but the number of Indonesian riders was also noticeably higher than in previous years, perhaps attracted by the UCI status. A large contingent from Perth, Australia further enhanced the international flavour of the event.
Leading the qualifiers from the ITT was Taylor Price of the Specialized Shanghai team. Racing in the 19-34 age group, Price covered the 17km course in a time of 23 minutes and 38 seconds, which represented an average speed of 40kph.
The next fastest man at 8 seconds back from Price and racing in the 40-44 cat was former Tour de Bintan winner Pierre-Alain Scherwey , with Luke Ellis in the 35-39 bracket a further 6 seconds slower in third.
The fastest woman was Amanda Nabi with the 40-44 cat winner clocking up a time of 27:28. Singapore riders Yiwei Luo and Serene Lee, both racing in the 19-34 division, were the next quickest, respectively 8 and 12 seconds behind Nabi.
The winds had intensified and brought along a full-on tropical downpour for good measure when the riders awoke for their pre-dawn breakfast on Saturday morning ahead of the Tour de Bintan's queen stage, the newly branded Gran Fondo Classic which counted as the UCI qualifier. While the storm had subsided to a mere sprinkle by the time the combined Women's field kicked off the action at 7:30am, the threat of rain hung around all day and duly dumped down on the riders for the last few hours of racing.
The fastest riders on Saturday were again the male youngsters, with the 19-34 age group winner Jarred Anderson covering the 140km in a time of 3:35:36, at a remarkable average speed of 42.6kph. The next fastest group was the 40-44s, over seven minutes slower. The winner of that division was Pavel Krizan, while the other male age group champs were Chris Reynolds (35-39 cat), Regis Robert (45-49 cat), David Morland (50-54 cat) and Matthew Sheriden (55-59 cat), Halkes (60-64 cat) and Skinner (65+ cat).
Leading the combined women's field home was Lee, winning a bunch sprint contested by seven ladies having covered the course in 3:54:45. Other division winners from that lead group were Nabi, her training teammate Anke Hoskins (45-49) and Michelle Ho (35-39 cat). Further back, Nicholson and Carpenter both took their second successive wins in the 50-54 and 55-59 categories respectively.