19 May 2014
THE TOUR OF JAPAN
(OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team rider Eric Sheppard competes in the opening stage of the Tour of Japan on Sunday, 18 May 2014, in Sakai, Japan.)
THE OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team is looking to continue its roaring run of success in one of the most prestigious Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Asia Tour races –The Tour of Japan.
The six-stage race began at Sakai on Sunday, 18 May, and will conclude exactly a week later in Tokyo. The tour was upgraded to a UCI 2.1 classification last year, which is a reflection of Tour of Japan’s rising position in Asia. Invited for the third consecutive year, the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team is one of only seven foreign squads that have been invited to the race. Being upgraded to a UCI 2.1 classification also meanS that the team will face stiffer competition as it will race against top international teams, such as Italian Pro Outfit Lampre-Merida, Australian Drapac Professional Cycling team, and the Australian Avanti Racing Team. Representing the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team are Singaporean Low Ji Wen, Australian riders Cameron Bayly and Eric Sheppard, Dutchman Thomas Rabou, Korean Jang Changjae who made his debut at Le Tour de Filipinas a month ago, and Hong Kong national Ronald Yeung.
On Sunday 18 May 2014, the team got off to a steady start in the Tour of Japan, as they managed to better last year’s performance in one of the most prestigious races on the Union Cyclist Internationale (UCI) Asia Tour.
In the 2.65-kilometre individual time-trial stage which begun at Sakai, the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team was led by Cameron Bayly, who clocked 3:23:38 to finish in 13th place, just 9.29 seconds behind stage winner William Clarke from Australia’s Drapac Professional Cycling team. Clark crossed the finishing line in 3:14:09. Last year, the team’s best stage result in the Tour of Japan was Eric Sheppard's 68th-place finish.
22-year-old Sheppard managed to better his performance from last year by finishing in 33rd place with a timing of 3:28:16. This was better than the 3:47:33 he clocked at last year’s opening stage.
OCBC's Thomas Rabou finished in 42nd place with a timing of 3:29:53, bettering last year’s result of 3:56:00. The only Singaporean in the race, Low Ji Wen, finished in 61st place with a timing of 3:31:59 improving on his performance last year of 3:48:37.
The Tour of Japan resumes on Tuesday and the second stage begins at Mino. It will cover 160.7-kilometres, the longest stage in the entire race. It will consist of seven-plus loops around a 21.3-kilometre circuit course.
(OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team rider Cameron Bayly competes in the opening stage of the Tour of Japan on Sunday, 18 May 2014, in Sakai, Japan)
(OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team rider Eric Sheppard (extreme left) competed in Stage 1 of the Tour of Japan last year, at Sakai, Japan)
(OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team rider Thomas Rabou competed in Stage 1 of the Tour of Japan last year, at Sakai, Japan)
Photos by: OCBC Pro cycling Team