Dubai: Majid Mohammad Al Rahman Al Beloushi upstaged Asian champion and teammate Yousuf Mirza to clinch top honours in the 75-km cycling race in the open category held as part of the Nad Al Sheba (NAS) Sports Tournament late on Friday.
Al Beloushi, who had finished second behind Mirza last year, paced his ride to perfection as he ended in the top spot with a time of 1 hour, 38.15 minutes to finish clear of chasing teammates Mohammad Hassan Ali Al Muraw’wi (1:38.16) and Mohammad Yousuf Al Mansouri (1:38.18).
Going into the race and unknown to all, Mirza was used as a decoy in the race as riders kept up a fast pace of more than 45km/h throughout the 75 km of the competition. Most of the chasing field fell for the ploy as the lead riders from other teams kept a tight leash on Mirza as Al Beloushi and his teammates managed to slip past and sprint across the finish.
“That was a clever strategy from us all during the team meeting, and fortunately things worked to perfection,” UAE team coach and former champion rider Badr Mirza told Gulf News.
“The strategy could have backfired as well, but our lead riders fronted by Yousuf did well to keep the chasing pack on their toes all the time. And by the time any of them had realised it, the main bunch led by Majid Mohammad had managed to give them slip and win,” he added.
Mirza is using his time in the UAE preparing for the Japan Cup that is scheduled to be held in Utsunomiya, Japan on October 21. First held in 1992, the one-day road competition is sanctioned by world governing body UCI as a 1.HC race as part of the UCI Asia Tour. “The element of surprise was very important going into this race. Everyone was certain that I would be leading the team. But we had decided that Majid would be the frontman while I kept on making constant breakaways to put the other teams off-guard,” Mirza said.
“This race has always been special for me and my team. We had decided well in advance that I would lead the rest of the field astray, and that is exactly how things worked out in the end. I am pleased to put myself up for the sake of the team,” he added.
The second day of road cycling will be held on Monday night with riders from another three categories — Women’s Open and Amateur Residents Men and Women — participating at the Nad Al Sheba Sports Complex from 10 pm.