Malaysia will go into its UCI Road World Championship tilt next week as one of the underdogs after qualifying just two riders. Adiq Husainie Othman (Champion System) will be the country's sole starter for the U23 road race, and Loh Sea Keong (OCBC) will be flying the Malaysian flag during the elite road race. Although unkown names to casual cycling fans, both riders bring a respectable level of experience to their World Title bids with the pair boasting extensive European experience.
"I've had good preparation for this task as I've had 10 to 15 one-day races in Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium, mostly races on flat routes," Adiq told The New Straits Times from Belgium. "I heard that the World Championships course is hilly, so I have to see how the legs go on the day.
"I'm almost out of gas as I've done more than 100 races this year, but going to the World Championships gives me extra motivation to carry on. It will be my last race of the season."
Having begun his career in earnest with Australian team Drapac Cycling in 2010, Adiq made his way to the pro continental ranks after signing with Champion System in 2012. The U23 road race on Friday Semtember 27 will be Adiq's second attempt at the espoirs title. In Copenhagen in 2011, the 22-year-old finished just under two minutes behind eventual winner Arnaud Demare in 111th.
Sea Keong on top of the world
Having won an adoring following from home fans for regularly being one of the most aggressive riders during his home town race, the Tour de Langkawi, Sea Keong believes he may have to reign in his attacking ways if he wants to finish the Elite Mens Road Race on Sunday. Having failed to finish his first World Championship experience last year in Holland, simply surviving will take an even higher priority for the 26-year-old.
"The mission will, first, be to survive and complete the race. We will have to see what sort of opportunities the race provides," told The New Straights Times.
Having won stages at the UCI 2.2 Tours of Thailand, Singkarak, and at the Jelajah Malaysia –as well as claiming overall honours at the Malaysian race- Sea Keong is having the best season of his career with the Singaporean OCBC Cycling Team.
Sea Keong began his career in Europe racing for numerous seasons with the Marco Polo Cycling Team through its various iterations. He spent that time learning aside riders such as Leon van Bon, Jai Crawford and Fuyu-Li out of their base in Limburg. This lengthy apprenticeship -spent mainly on the Belgian kermesse circuit- has taught him how to hide in a peloton and how to suffer immensely, two skills he plans to utilise next weekend.
"I haven't had a look at the route yet, but I know it is hilly and it will be tough. This is like an opportunity of a lifetime for me and I am going there to ride my heart out till it's dry.
"I will give everything,"