Sat, 06 Dec 2003

Indonesia cyclists set to do it without Tonton

Hanoi The Jakarta Post

The Indonesian cycling team is looking to overcome Tonton Susanto's hangover when it sets out for its medal hunt at the SEA Games on Saturday.

Tonton, Indonesia's number one road racing cyclist, has skipped the tournament, saying he did not get on well with certain team officials.

His presence in the team would likely have boosted the team's medal prospects, but team manager Sofyan Ruzian said that he would not let himself be drawn into speculating.

"Even if he were here his chances would still be fifty-fifty against his rivals," Sofyan told The Jakarta Post here on Friday.

Tonton, who handed the team one of its three golds in the last SEA Games, is one of the best riders, not only in the region but also in Asia. His cycling prowess lured Telkom Malaysia into contracting him before he was released to the Surabaya-based Wismilak Team.

He was shaping up well in the run-up to the SEA Games when he won the Thailand Tour in September. He defeated Prajak Mahawong of Thailand and Sahrlneeza Razali of Malaysia.

Sofyan said that even without Tonton the team would still be looking to the race for four of ten gold medals on offer, to be distributed between the Criterium, International Time Trial, Mass Start and Mountain Bike (MTB).

"We have not changed the target. We are still confident about our prospects," he said.

Arriving on Nov. 28 with 20 riders, the Indonesian team, according to Sofyan, is banking its medal hopes on the Criterium, women's Mass Start and MTB.

The Criterium event will be held at Hoan Kiem Lake in the center of the city, the Mass Start and ITT in Bac Ninh province and the MTB at Hoa Binh province.

"We have come here early to acclimatize ourselves to the weather, and the riders are in good shape for the match," Sofyan said.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian team rued Tonton's absence, with team manager Amrun Misnoh saying that its competitiveness would reduce somewhat.

He admitted to Sahrulneeza Razali's improved prospects in the absence of Tonton.

"I heard that Tonton is not around. It's too good to miss the competition without Tonton," he told the Post during a flight between Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi on Wednesday.

"Prajak is probably the toughest opponent to beat," he said.

The Malaysian team brings Razali, Musairi Musa, Suhadi Hassan, Sayuti Zhidi and Mahadir Mahadi, all of whom were teamed up in their victory in the Tour de ISSI in Java in August. Norazian Alias is the team's only female rider in the SEA Games.