The Race Experience
Getting to Bintan from Singapore is pretty straightforward, and the ferries on the Thursday before the race are very empty, so a good tip is to book a ferry time that is comfortable to achieve from your flight arrival time, and then ask to be put on an earlier ferry is there is one available. There is a range of accommodation available and Nirwana Gardens is the best choice for convenience. At registration, you may have to pinch yourself and remember you are in Asia, as the process is swiss-like in its efficiency. The MetaSport team have really got their shit together from years of refining these events and also taking a lot of learnings from the triathlon world. The briefing was on a looped video that was detailed and yet brief, and the whole process was smooth as freshly shaved guns!
Individual Time Trial
A great 17km course with a few tight corners and lumpy bits, and there always seems to be a strong headwind for the first few km making it hard to judge. The atmosphere at the start/finish is pretty good, and the process to weigh your bike and queue for the start ramp is very efficient.
The Road Stages
Again, the organisation is smooth and the atmosphere at the start/finish is great! During the races, one of the biggest factors is being able to deal with the heat and subsequent dehydration, as the pelotons drive over the succession of rollers. For most age groups its a case of the peloton getting whittled down, riders slowly dropping off the rear, rather than a deliberate breakaway, but these can happen! An issue with the format of age group pelotons separated by mere minutes, and this is the same for other Gran Fondo World Series, is that small breakaways can bridge up to the age group ahead and then sit in. The "Century" route used on for the Sunday is shorter and includes a few more significant climbs that the "Classic" route, as well as some narrow twisty sections, making breakaways more likely. On the whole, the water stations work pretty well but be warned, the decision to take water towards the end of a stage can also be the decision that gets you dropped (unless these are converted into neutral zones as suggested by MetaSport).