Eric Sheppard finishes on podium for second straight day, caps off superb Tour de Korea for OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team
16 June 2013 – ERIC Sheppard helped the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team cap off a superb maiden appearance at the Tour de Korea with his second podium finish in as many days, this time capturing third place in Sunday’s Stage 8.
This marked the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team’s seventh podium finish on the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) Asia Tour this season and the first time an OCBC rider has earned two podium spots in the same Tour.
Less than 24 hours after coming in second in Stage 7, Sheppard made a late break on Sunday to cross the line just after stage winner Seo Joonyong from the KSPO team. The final stage of the Tour was also its shortest, at just 90.8 kilometres from Hongcheon to Hanam. That, combined with the relatively flat terrain, resulted in the formation of a 46-strong lead pack at the end of the race. Among them were the other four OCBC riders, who were all credited with the same time of 2:03:51 as Seo and finished in the following order: Low Ji Wen (19th), Luke Parker (33rd), Jason Christie (36th) and Thomas Rabou (41st).
The result left the General Classification (GC) standings mostly intact, which meant Rabou held on to his fifth-place finish, 1:28 behind yellow jersey winner Michael Cuming from top Continental Team Rapha Condor JLT. It was the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team’s best finish in the GC of any race this season, the previous best coming when Rabou earned ninth place in the GC of Le Tour de Filipinas in April.
Sheppard ended up 11th in the GC standings and third in the Best Young Rider competition, 2:56 behind white jersey winner Cheung Kinglok of Team Hong Kong China. Sheppard also finished in sixth place in the Sprints competition. The 22-year-old Aussie was a serious contender for his second straight white jersey, having captured the honour at the Tour de Kumano in Japan at the beginning of the month.
New signing Christie completed his debut race for the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team in 48th place, while Parker finished 69th and Low 76th in the GC standings. Low’s 19th-place result on Sunday marked the third time a Singaporean has earned a top-20 stage finish on the UCI Asia Tour this season. Low, a former national road race champion, crossed the line in 17th place in Stage 6 of the Tour of Japan last month, while Goh Choon Huat took 19th place in Stage 6 of The Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s Cup Tour of Thailand in April.
The long list of accolades makes the Tour de Korea arguably the brightest highlight in a season full of highlights for Singapore’s only professional cycling team.
“This is one of our most successful races to date,” said Justin Cheong, team manager of the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team. “Two podium finishes, two riders in the top 11 of the General Classification, third place in the Best Young Rider competition and eighth overall among all the top-notch teams present – these accomplishments are nothing to sneeze at. This validates all the hard work we’ve put in, and we’re thrilled.”
The OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team concluded the Tour de Korea as the eighth-best squad in the Team General Classification, above the likes of the Australia, Kazakhstan, Korea and Malaysia national teams and Team Hong Kong China.
Along the way, the OCBC riders logged four top-10 stage finishes:
– Stage 2: Eric Sheppard, ninth
– Stage 6: Thomas Rabou, fifth
– Stage 7: Eric Sheppard, second
– Stage 8: Eric Sheppard, third
Sheppard’s latest display of brilliance adds to the growing list of stellar results the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team has produced this year. The following are the team’s seven podium finishes this year:
– The Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn’s Cup Tour of Thailand: Loh Sea Keong, winner of Stage 2
– Le Tour de Filipinas: Thomas Rabou, third in Stage 4
– Melaka Governor’s Cup: Loh Sea Keong, second, and Thomas Rabou, third
– Tour de Singkarak: Loh Sea Keong, winner of Stage 4
– Tour de Korea: Eric Sheppard, second in Stage 7
– Tour de Korea: Eric Sheppard, third in Stage 8
Sheppard and Parker are stagiaires, that is, amatuers riding temporarily for a professional team as a tryout. They are riding in the OCBC jersey under an exchange programme with the search2retain powered by health.com.au team from Australia.
The OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team next competes in the UCI Asia Tour at Jelejah Malaysia, a five-stage race that runs from 26-30 June. It is Malaysia’s oldest cycling race.
About OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team
The OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team was first founded in 2009 as an amateur club team with the mission to develop and promote Singapore cycling. The team has today turned into a full-fledged professional cycling team and established itself as the premier road developmental team for cycling talent in Singapore. Being the first and only professional cycling outfit out of Singapore, the team has been licensed by the Union Cycliste Internationale (“UCI”) as a UCI Continental Cycling Team since 2012. Riders from the team have been crowned champions or stage winners in races such as the Tour of California KOM, Tour of Siam, Tour de Kumamo, Tour of Filipinas and Tour of Thailand.