THE pressure will be on for the national cycling team next month.
Brunei's representatives are set to don their jerseys at the March 8-19 Asian Cycling Championships (ACC) in New Delhi, India, and with the tournament hardly a month away, national cycling coach Yafiz Jamaludin and eight riders are currently in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah for a 10-day training stint.
Though eight cyclists have been provisionally selected by the 31-year-old coach for next month's tournament, Yafiz said he hopes to trim the number down to six as the competition approaches.
"They are eight riders currently training with us but only six will participate in the tournament," he said yesterday.
"Reduan Yusof and Muhammad Raihaan Abd Aziz will be competing in the elite category while Muhammad Raihaan's brother Muhammad I'maadi will join Muhd Syazwi Azhar Hairol Rani, Azmi @ Mohammed Luqman Abd Hadzid and Ahmad Rifa'ie Hj Johor in the junior category (Under-23).
"We've been in Kota Kinabalu since Friday to work on some intensive endurance and strength training programmes to prepare the riders for India and everybody has shown me good effort during training.
"They are pushing harder and I can see that all riders are trying to get something out of this.
"Today's (Monday) training route will be from Kota Kinabalu to Tamparuli to Mesilau and then back to Kota Kinabalu, and the total distance covered will be 200 km
"We will be back in Brunei on Sunday and I hope that the riders' mentality and confidence will increase after this stint so that we can focus on our full-speed training to achieve peak performance in the ACC," continued the ex-national and state cyclist for Malaysia and Selangor.
Yafiz said that the ACC will not only be part of their training programme but also serve as a benchmark for riders to qualify for the upcoming Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Myanmar in December.
"We want to show our best performance in the ACC because we want to prove that we've got what it takes to qualify for SEA Games," insisted Yafiz.
The Sultanate came home empty handed from last year's edition of the ACC in Kuala Lumpur in February after their best rider, Muhammad Raihaan, failed to complete the 180km elite men's road race after pulling out due to leg cramps.
Muhammad Raihaan was joined by Mohd Nurhaimin Awang during last year's ACC in the Malaysian capital.
The 24-year-old Muhammad Raihaan would make amends for his heartbreak in Kuala Lumpur by finishing second at both the 6th TPS Mountain Bike Challenge 2012 the Borneo Mountain Bike (MTB) Challenge 2012 in Sabah in December.
The Brunei Times