National cycling coach Yafiz Jamaludin
National cycling coach Yafiz Jamaludin (pic) has identified Indonesia as the team to beat in today's 2013 SEA Games cross country Olympic event.
Muhammad I'maadi Abd Aziz and Muhammad Rafiuddin Zikara start Brunei's cycling campaign at Mount Pleasant knowing full and well that Indonesia are the firm favourites after winning the cross country relay at the same venue yesterday.
Indonesia's team of four won the event after clocking 55:48.377 while Thailand took silver with 57:23.117 and Vietnam bronze with 58:59.362.
"From what we saw in today's relay, Indonesia are really strong and they will be fielding the same riders tomorrow," said Yafiz yesterday.
Ahmad Rifa'ie Haji Johor, Azmi @ Lokman Abd Hadzid and Reduan Yusop make up the rest of the five-man cycling team in Myanmar, and though today's cross country event allows for a maximum of three riders, none of the trio will be joining I'maadi and Rafiuddin as Yafiz said they aren't specialists in the discipline.
After the disappointment of being left out of the 2011 contingent to the last SEA Games in Indonesia, the national cycling team proved worthy of a ticket to Myanmar after winning bronze in three events during a pre-SEA Games cycling competition here in March.
The team finished third in the individual time trial, team time trial and team road race at the pre-SEA Games meet.
Mohd Nurjamri Johari, who was left out of the squad to Myanmar, was Brunei's sole representative in the cross country race in March but finished ninth out of the 10 competitors after technical problems meant an early end to his race.
Yafiz described the course, which is the same one Mohd Nurjamri competed in, as "fast and challenging".
Each rider will have to complete one and a half hours on his bike today, and the aim is to reach the finish line after going around the 4.1 km course at least seven times.
"It depends on the situation," explained Yafiz.
"If the one and a half hours are up and they have not completed seven or eight laps, they will have to do another lap.
"Six laps in one and a half hours... That hardly happens in a fast track like this unless it rains
"We've been here for a few days now and it hasn't rained, or looked like raining," added the Malaysian.
Apart from the cross country, individual time trial, team time trial and team road race events, Brunei are also set to compete in the individual road race during the course of the coming days.
The team prepared for Myanmar with a two-month high altitude training stint in Kundasang, Sabah which Yafiz hopes has allowed them to peak in time for the 27th edition of the SEA Games.