Local stars challenge world opponents
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SEA Games gold medalists are set to head over to the mountain bike track in Cikole, West Java, to compete against a crop of foreign contenders in the Specialized Asia Pacific Downhill Challenge 2012.
The two-day race beginning Saturday will feature a total of 270 participants, some 50 of whom have travelled from overseas to participate, according to the organizers.
Among the visiting riders are Mitch Ropelato, Neko Mullaly of United States, Gee Atheron, Marc Baumont of England and Jackson Davis of Australia.
“I raced with [some of] them at the World Cup in Italy two months ago. I can’t afford to let up and must try to give my best,” Popo Ariyo Sejati, who won gold at the 2009 SEA Games in Laos, told reporters during a press conference in Jakarta on Thursday.
He acknowledged the grit of foreign riders in the event that would take place coinciding with the anniversary of the “Sixth Annual United Bicycle Day”, with cash prizes totaling Rp 150 million (US$15,584).
“However, I will try my best to check them on the track,” he said. He won the 2010 race, but finished third last year.
He was presented to the press along with United Bike Kencana’s teammate Purnomo and some of the foreign participants.
Purnomo, who triumphed when the SEA Games was held at home in 2011, said he was optimistic about the prospect.
“I’m racing to win,” he said.
The organizers announced that they had created barriers on the 1.6 kilometer track specific to Indonesia.
“Although it is not as extremely steep as those abroad, the track does not make it an easy challenge, especially during rain because the clay road becomes hazardously slick. They call it ‘like riding on ice’,” track designer Andre Palmer said.
The fourth edition of the annual event features races in 14 categories — men’s, women’s elite, men’s expert, junior, men’s sport, master A/B/C, master expert A/B/C/grand, women’s open and youth.