Monday, August 26

Kirill, Arianna steal limelight in Siol ChallengeBy Marshall Tiong

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Overall winners of the Asia Mountainbike Series pose with Kuching North City Commission mayor Datuk Abang Wahap Abang Julai (left) and Sarawak Sports Corporation CEO Dr Ong Kong Swee (right) are (from second left) JR Stanley Jalip (masters DH), Natashya Soon (women’s DH), Kirill Kazantsev (men’s XCO), Eleazar Barba Jr. (men’s DH) and Ariana Dormitorio (women’s XCO).

KUCHING: Siol International Mountain Bike Challenge (SIMBC) here wrapped up the Asia Mountainbike Series (AMS) on Sunday at Petra Jaya’s DBKU track with cyclists from nine nations represented in the various categories.

Krill Kazantsev won the men’s XCO on cruise control and clinched the overall crown, having won the Tambunan leg and placing second in Timur Leste earlier.

He skipped the opening Yawatahama leg but still amassed 58 points to take the winner’s jersey for the series.

He made clear his intent when he arrived in Kuching a week in advance to train at the track.

Despite the difficult conditions caused by the recent rainfall, he made no complaint.

“It was muddy and slippery but that is normal mountain biking conditions,” said the Kazakh who is an eight-time national XCO champion and was also their current XCE and XCM champ.

In the six-lap race, he was forced to walk up the challenging Expert Climb at the 2km point four times.

“I rode up in the first and fourth lap but had to walk up in the other laps. You cannot afford to make the slightest mistake on that section,” said Kazantsev.

“It was a tough course but not as tough as a World Cup course.”

“It was a good and interesting race here. The race was well organised, everything was on time and the food was good,” he added.

He is the best ambassador the SIMBC could have asked for as he also played tourist, taking in the attractions like the Kuching Waterfront and posting the photos on his Facebook page.

Arianna Domitorio of the Philippines was the dominant force in the women’s XCO, winning three rounds with her only blemish being a second place at Timur Leste.

“Siol was a hard course as it was muddy and some sections was not really rideable,” said Domitorio.

“It was really steep and it felt like it was more intended to be walked up,” said the Philippine national champ of the Expert Climb.

“They reverse the course this year, so I think that was the downhill section last year,” noted Domitorio.

Her compatriot Eleazar Barba Jr. won the downhill event Sunday to clinch the overall title with 60 points after also winning at Tambunan and Timur Leste.

Team Giant Malaysia’s Aim Fauzi was a distant second as his only other AMS race was at Tambunan where he was second.

Sabah’s Natashya Soon was third in the women’s downhill won by Filipino Lea D. Belgira who timed 1min 39.64secs, 5.09secs faster than Soon.

However, Soon still won the overall crown as she had won in Tambunan, Timur Leste and had 10 points at Yamaguchi.

Team Malaysia’s Abdul Syazwan A. Rahman was the men’s junior XCO winner after winning on Saturday with Taiwan’s Yeh Yu Shuang taking the women’s junior XCO title after also winning her Siol race.

The only regret in the superb weekend of racing was the downturn in the number of local racers due to the UCI requirement of a full racing licence and the abolishment of a temporary licence.

“We informed them of this a long time ago. It is also on the application form,” said race director A. Hakeem Hossen.

He noted it could be applied for online and can be completed in three days.

There was also no Team Sarawak in Sarawak’s only UCI event.