Tales from the travellers – the diary of Team Marco Polo

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Marco Polo profile: Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh, rider and coach

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On the podium
Photo: © Marco Polo CC
Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh was born 1967 in Ulan Bator, the capitol of Mongolia. After he saw the Olympics on television he knew he was going to be a cyclist. At the age of 17 he started cycling and 6 months later he became National Junior Champion of Mongolia.

The next year he became member of the National Team and became National Senior Champion. In these years the National Cycling Federation arranged participation in international cycling races and he got the chance to race in the Peace Race. In his first Senior year he finished this high-level race and was 56th overall.

During the years after this he had many successes including top ten placings in stages in international cycling races, mostly in the socialist countries. At the age of 22 he was third at the Asian Championships, and later was second (three times) and third once more in the same event.

In 1991, at the age of 24, he got the chance to race in Italy and he had good results. 1992 was supposed to be his break-through year. At the Olympics in Barcelona he rode an excellent race. Three men were off the front and would get the medals. Jamsran was in the second group of about five men with 10km to go, looking safe to catch a top ten placing until an accident happened. A rider from the Philippines who was returning to his hotel, came in the opposite direction and crashed into the group. Jamsran was able to finish but was caught by the peloton and finished anonymously in 54th place. There were contacts with Gatorade, but the socialist government took his passport.

1993 he hoped to show what a potential he had as a cyclist, but another accident made this impossible. He was involed in a car accident in which his training mate and best friend was killed and died in his arms. Jamsran survived but spent several months in hospital.

Jamsran came back very strongly but his chances of becoming professional were gone; too exotic and too old. He got a university degree in Russia as a cycling coach and is now training talented young Mongolian cyclists, to give them the opportunity to become professionals. He is still active in racing himself and is the ruling Mongolian Champion (he has been National Champion 15 times in Time Trial and Road Race).

According to Jamsran, Mongolian people have the mentality and physical capacity to become the world’s best cyclists. Living in a country at over 1,500 meters altitude, in winters with temperatures below minus 40 degrees Celsius and summers with temperatures rising above 40 degrees Celsius makes people super strong and tough and that is what you need in cycling.

Jamsran is racing this season with the Marco Polo Cycling Club to show that cyclists from non-traditional cycling countries can become great cyclists. He wants to race many high level races. With the Marco Polo Cycling Club he prepared for the 'B countries' World Championships in China, his main goal this season. Jamsran finished second, beaten in the sprint by Chinese rider Tang. Jamsran showed he was way stronger than the rest of the field, but could not drop sprinter Tang.

A cyclist from western Europe with Jamsran’s qualities would certainly have been a top professional. Jamsran however is very happy to do a good amateur program with UCI X.4 and X.5 races with the Marco Polo Cycling Club. He has gained some podium places in the Netherlands and Germany this season.

Right now Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh is racing in Qinghai-Tibet, a national event in China, where the Marco Polo Cycling Club also participates. This race goes up to 5300 meters altitude. Next time on Tales of the travellers a report about this race, it will be an epic!