By Chia Han Keong
NEXT year's OCBC Cycle Singapore will see elite riders competing under floodlights - not unlike those used at the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix night race.
Indeed, the mass-cycling event's marquee competition - the professional criterion race - will be moved from its original race slot of Sunday afternoon to Saturday night.
The cooler temperatures, together with a new 1.7km route around the F1 Pit Building, will hopefully attract more spectators to the event, as well as secure prime-time live telecasts.
Discussions are ongoing for this race to be one of the first televised night cycling races to be staged in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Cycle Singapore, to be held from March 4-6 next year, is into its third edition, and hopes to attract more than 12,000 cycling enthusiasts to participate in its various race categories.
It also wants to attract about 20,000 spectators and, for the first time, it is holding a "Rock and Ride" live music festival featuring local musicians and bands.
Said Mr Chris Robb, managing director of Spectrum Worldwide, the event's owner and organiser: "This year's OCBC Cycle Singapore saw well over 9,000 people ride along public roads in Singapore. With exciting new developments, we're expecting a significant increase in participant numbers in 2011."
Already, this year's race winner, Australian Ben Kuersten, has put his name down to defend his title next year.
While the night race would provide a cooler viewing experience for spectators, participating cyclists believe that they should be able to tackle the race with minimal adjustments to their training regimens.
Said national cyclist Junaidi Hashim, 28: "The only adjustments are for us to change our times for pre-race preparations and post-race recovery. Obviously they have to be done later than those for daytime races.
"Anyway, we are used to training twice per day - mornings and evenings. We just need to stick to the evening routines, there's no need to even change our sleeping times."
While the elite riders look forward to the night race, other participating cyclists can also expect new developments in past race categories.
For example, the Super Challenge has been extended from 50km to 60km and, together with the newly named 40km Nissan Challenge, will feature new routes to give riders the chance to cycle along a more scenic route through the city.
Registration for the event began yesterday, and fees start from $20. Limited-edition bicycles, biking shorts, gloves and event jerseys are available for purchase online.
Interested parties can go to www.ocbc.cyclesingapore.com. sg for more information.
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