Team Plomo Dr Dagoo

 

Words by Nadiah Aziz Photos by Irfan Shathiran

 

When you think about UCI Continental teams, it is still very hard to see Malaysian cyclists racing and winning at such a high level in the sport. We’re not entirely sure why this is so, when there are already several local outfits that have broken into the international cycling arena. Even so, they are obviously still a fair distance away from reaching the standard of the grand tours. The question is: Could that change in the next decade or so?

 

If you’re a regular face at the local races on the calendar, you would have seen some cyclists that keep popping up on the podium, with blue and white kits bearing the name Team Plomo and riding Dr Dagoo frames, which we featured in Volume 18 of Cycling Plus Malaysia magazine (November-December 2018). Who are these men and where did they come from? The most prominent name in the group is obviously former Malaysian cyclist Raziff Jaafar, who started the outfit himself. 

 

But who or what exactly is Plomo? Unless you’re in the marine industry, you wouldn’t recognise the name anymore than we did. Plomo Group is essentially an approved Petronas Licensed SWEC code holder for various marine consultancy services, which include marine risk assessment/analysis, marine transportation and manpower supply. They also train marine related personnel for Johor Port, Malaysia Marine & Heavy Engineering as well as Pengerang Terminal Sdn Bhd.

 

But who or what exactly is Plomo? Unless you’re in the marine industry, you wouldn’t recognise the name anymore than we did. Plomo Group is essentially an approved Petronas Licensed SWEC code holder for various marine consultancy services, which include marine risk assessment/analysis, marine transportation and manpower supply. They also train marine related personnel for Johor Port, Malaysia Marine & Heavy Engineering as well as Pengerang Terminal Sdn Bhd.

Sponsoring a pro cycling team isn’t necessarily the most natural fit, but we have to admit that stranger partnerships have been seen even on the international stage. According to Plomo Group CEO Captain Ahmad Jaafar, it wasn’t such a farfetched notion. “Well, it was cheaper than sponsoring a Formula One team!” laughs the 15-year marine industry veteran, who is always looking for new ideas. “One of Plomo’s job scopes is looking after the seafarers of Malaysia. I wanted to have cycling as one of their events, so I was already on the hunt for an event manager.”

 

“I was also looking for a bike, and I came across Raziff’s shop (Dr Dagoo One Stop Bike Centre). I told him my idea of creating a Cape Rachado Challenge, because I want the public to know that we have a really nice lighthouse in Port Dickson that is more than 100 years old. So I thought one day, why not we have a tour from one lighthouse to another? Because we do have about 5 or 6 of these lighthouses.”

One thing led to another and before he knew it, he was sponsoring a pro cycling team. “So I got to know him, his bike shop and I know he desires to start his own team. And we started with the event,” Captain Ahmad remembers. “It’s a small event, but I wanted a real event that would pull people in the maritime industry, and come from all over, like Singapore and Indonesia. And they told me that it’s not that expensive to sponsor a bike team, so I told Raziff, why not I help you and we establish this team.”

“We are looking at these riders who have the potential but they have been kicked out of their team because of political reasons, or they are not from that state. I want the riders who have the desire to be someone bigger in the future. Because we also want to do R&D for our sponsors, we want our riders to be testers who will give feedback for these products, like the Dr Dagoo frames, Veloforce wheelset or energy bars. Or maybe academics want to measure the brain waves of cyclists after riding 100km? So what we are building is also an R&D team.”

As for Team Plomo Dr Dagoo, it has been great to see that the outfit is made up of mostly local talent, unlike other Malaysian UCI continental pro teams. Raziff Jaafar, who is one of their main riders but also does double duty as team manager and race director, reckons this crop of cyclists have the talent to go far, with the support of Plomo Group and a proper training programme. 

 

 

Before hanging up his cleats temporarily and doing a nearly ten year stint as a DJ under the moniker Rasztooten, Raziff spent a number of years representing Malaysia, gaining valuable knowledge of what it takes to create a team from the bottom up. “I used to race a lot in the region, but one of my most unforgettable experiences was when I was based in Belgium,” explains Raziff, who is also more affectionately known as Dagoo - hence his brand name. “In 2006 I was there for about 6 months.”

“I went there to get experience, to do research, because I have a strong curiosity. We didn’t have local cycling pros at the time, I felt like Malaysia was so far behind. The difference between Malaysian cycling back then and now is night and day. Before I quit as national cyclist, I left the country and went to Belgium to get experience. To see how pro teams were managed, I lived there and raced there with them.”

It was definitely a turning point in Raziff’s life that has enabled him to gain valuable insight into how to build a professional team properly. “I believe I know how to improve a team if given the opportunity, enough support and funding,” he continues. “To make a team really good, it’s not just the riders who needs to be strong. The team support needs to be strong as well as the technology. The management also needs to know what they’re doing. You need to develop race strategy and tactics too.”

So far Team Plomo Dr Dagoo seems to be ticking all the right boxes, and things look fairly promising. Now the next question is, can this team of Malaysian riders reach the level needed to join the ranks of our UCI Continental outfits? They’ve definitely got the look of a pro team, with the matching bikes, the proper kit, a race director cum manager and some great sponsors backing them. Raziff is fairly positive on the future. “I think they’re almost there, to be honest. One day, maybe two years from now? We’ll see. Lets take it step by step.”

Whether or not they make it, there’s no doubt that Team Plomo Dr Dagoo is a welcome face within the local circuit, upping the competitive level for the race calendar in a good way. For us at Cycling Plus Malaysia, we definitely feel that it is a step in the right direction for Malaysian cycling as a whole.