Cycling/Jelajah Malaysia: Sayuti simply enjoying the ride
IF there was reason to relish every moment of this edition of Jelajah Malaysia, Sayuti Zahit will tell you how thankful he is for a decision made in the second part of last year.
While much of the attention prior to the start and during the race has been on Le Tua’s top sprinter Anuar Manan, the quiet return to the top level by former national rider Sayuti, 24, has gone almost unnoticed.From almost quitting the sport in 2006, that year’s Asian Championships scratch race silver medallist is now a happy rider again. Even happier to play lead-out man to the country’s top sprinter.”It all feels good again and I’m now back to being serious about my cycling. I’m enjoying it like it’s supposed to be,” said Sayuti, who is also a sports science student at Universiti Malaya.Many will remember the controversy within the National Sports Council (NSC) track cycling programme that centred around Sayuti and Fauzan Ahmad Lutfi raising much concern about the way things were run, bringing about disciplinary action against both, who were subsequently dropped from the national team at that time.
Fauzan, 21, found a new lease of life in the national road programme and with French club ASPTT-Mulhouse where he is due to return after Le Tour de Langkawi (LTdL) next month, while Sayuti quit the sport momentarily before being coaxed into staying and rode last year’s Jelajah Malaysia with the Putrajaya team.Seeing the limited opportunities to race offered by that team, Sayuti moved to Le Tua, where he is now settled again.”It all felt like the world had ended. I was really disappointed, mostly with myself and I just gave up. But now I think there is still life in cycling despite not being backed by the Government like those in the national programmes.”In fact, here it is about delivering results in order for us to stay alive and I think this is what can bring us success. We all have something to prove,” said Sayuti, who is second in the Jelajah Malaysia points classification currently, behind Anuar.”But the pressure is a nice kind of pressure. When we do our job right, Anuar is the one under the most pressure because if he doesn’t deliver, he fails the whole team.”At the same time, if Anuar cannot win a stage, we all take the blame collectively. This is a more focused type of road cycling compared to what I was used to.”Having been among the most promising juniors with a World Junior Championships seventh-place finish in 2002 and an Asian Junior Championships road race silver medal (behind Japan’s Fumiyuki Beppu) in 2001, Sayuti was the youngest ever Malaysian to make a LTdL debut when he did it as a 19-year old in 2004.With Le Tua, he is likely to be there again this year as he rides on with, more than anything else, the faith that his sport won’t let him down.