By Stefanus Ian/Red Sports

Low Ji Wen, the 2009 national road race champion, cycles in the rain in Stage 1 of the Tour of Japan on May 19 in Sakai. Ji Wen clocked 2:34:31 to finish 17th in Stage 6 of the Tour of Japan. It was the best stage performance by any Singaporean this year. (Photo 1 courtesy of OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team)


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Tokyo, Japan, Sunday, May 26, 2013 — Low Ji Wen and Phuchong Saiudomsin clocked 2 hours 34:31 seconds in Sunday’s 112-kilometre Stage 6 of the Tour of Japan as they finished in 17th and 14th place respectively. Ji Wen’s performance was the best stage performance by any Singaporean this year.

The pair from the OCBC Singapore Pro Cycling Team kept pace with the lead pack, eventually achieving the same time as Taiki Nishitani, the stage winner. Ho Jun Rong, who finished with the same time as well, rounded off the lead pack in 51st position. Despite finishing in the Top-20 for the first time at the Tour of Japan, their team manager, Justin Cheong was not surprised.

“I now expect them to shine at every race we enter, no matter how prestigious it is or how many world-class riders are in the field,” said Justin.

The Tour of Japan was re-classified from a Union Cycliste International (UCI) rating of 2.2 to 2.1, thus including more world class cycling teams. At different points in the race, however, four different riders — Low Ji Wen, Thomas Rabou, Eric Sheppard and Phuchong Saiudomsin — finished in the top-25. Last year was starkly different with only one out of the five riders in the team completing the Tour of Japan.

The rapidly improving team moved on to the Tour de Kumano, a four-stage race running from May 30 to June 2. Low Ji Wen did well to come in 42nd at 54.23s in the time trial stage, just less than four seconds behind Mattia Pozzo the winner. They will move on to the next three stages situated around the Kumano region.

Tour de Kumano Prologue – Time Trial results
1st Mattia Pozzo (ITA) – 50.26
2nd Anthony Giacoppo (AUS) – 50.71
3rd Michele Merlo (ITA) – 51.56
4th Mart Ojavee (EST) – 51.86
5th Shimpei Fukuda (JPN) – 51.94
6th Hayato Yoshida (JPN) – 52.04
7th Masatoshi Oba (JPN) – 52.10
8th Jin Ohukbo (JPN) – 52.19
9th Ryoma Nonaka (JPN) – 52.22
10th Takayuki Abe (JPN) – 52.24
42nd Low Ji Wen (SIN) – 54.23