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Tales from the travellers — the diary of Team Marco Polo

Kam Po Wong profile

The guy who can play cycling is in Langkawi

By Bram de Waard
Click for larger image
Ready for action
Photo: © Francis Cerny
 

A famous retired Dutch rider said once: "Soccer players are saying after a game: We played well...Cyclists are never playing."

I doubt that, and to prove my doubts, I want to take you with me to Italy, April 2001 near Bari. We were coming into the last ten kilometres of the first stage of The paths of King Nicola. After severe attacks from a Hong Kong rider from the Marco Polo Cycling Club, only four riders are left in front on the savage circuit. Three Slovenians of the same team (Ptujna Ptuj) and the Champion of Asia, Wong Kam Po, born in Hong Kong on March 4th 1973.

The first Slovenian rider attacks and makes a gap of a 100 metres. Then the second Slovenian rider gets away. Kam Po doesn't seem to be interested at all...and the gap grows. Eight kilometres before the finish line the third rider attacks. One second later Wong Kam Po decided to hurt his legs and in one fast kilometre they are all brought back to hang in his wheel again.

In a nasty little downhill four kilometres before the finish line one of the Slovenians attacks again. And again, Kam Po cant be bothered. "Safety first", is his comment after the race. An effort on the flat is enough to close the gap. Just in time for the 1 kilometre uphill finish.

The first Slovenian loses about 25 seconds and the other ones over 35 seconds on the Marco Polo rider. When the tiny Chinese guy is on the podium, in the Marco Polo jersey with the Chinese characters, the Italians cant believe their eyes!

This is what I call playing, riding on a level that the body is doing what the mind wants.
 
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The Marco Polo team
Photo: © Francis Cerny

I thought it might be interesting to learn a bit about him. So I talked with him during the Tour of Wellington 2002. He was riding there as preparation for the Tour de Langkawi. He had just won the General Classification of the Tour of South China Sea and three out of seven stages there. He had a hard time defending his leaders jersey against the attacks of South African and German Pros.

There was just one day between this race and the Tour of Wellington, just enough time to arrive at 12 pm on the day before the race. Here he did not care about the G.C. and kept on winning (2) stages.

What I already knew about him was, that he is the second best known sportsman of Hong Kong. That sounds very interesting, and he does not seem to care much about it, because he told me: "It takes the same time to get well-known as not-known. Now it is OK, everybody is very nice to me. I just really like cycling. In the beginning I mostly enjoyed the touch of freedom I always feel while riding my bike. Later I started to enjoy winning and travelling too. The travelling makes me think there is more life than business, the way most people think in Hong Kong".

He won everything you can win on a bike in Asia. Twice he won the Road Championships at the Asian Games. Three times he won Tour the Okinawa and in 1997 and 2001 he became All China National Champion. I asked him about the reasons that he developed himself so much further then all the other riders in Asia, and he replied: "It is because of the good trainers and the good program they are offering me in Hong Kong. I just love cycling and it is giving me pleasure every day".

The hardest part for him in cycling is to overcome problems: "The human is normally very lazy, so I have to keep busy with motivating myself. I never cease to do that, 'cause I am doing what I love to do."

The only thing he is doing is cycling. He stopped with his study when he was 16, because studying made him sleepy. "The only time I start reading a book is when I can not sleep, because then I will sleep in 10 minutes."

He is ready to test his skills on the highest level we can give him in the world. Already he has been there a couple of times and performed well. At first he won a stage and the King of the Mountains classment in the Commonwealth Bank Classic in 1998, then he turned up in Tour the Langkawi and won the hardest stage there. In both races, many Euro pro's where present.
Click for larger image
Photo: © Francis Cerny
 

Twice he showed his talents in the Superweek of USA by winning a stage in 1998 and 2001. Another notable performance is his 11th place on the Olympic Points Race in Sydney 2000. And all this for a guy that only does a few races every year, but trains many, many kilometres in the Chinese highlands. Imagine how much he could improve by having the competition of the best riders in the world.

Kam Po can sprint, time trial and is most of all a superb climber. In the Tour de Langkawi he will be ready to show his climbing skills in the Genting Highlands stage 9.

Kam Po is ready to turn Pro and the world is going to know it!

List of Results

1991
Asian Junior Championships

1995
1st G.C. of the Tour of Taiwan

1996
1st Tour the Okinawa

1997
1st G.C. Tour of the Philippines.
1st All China National Games Road Race

1998
1st Asian Championships Road Race.
1st Tour de Okinawa
1st Stage of Super week USA
1st KOM Commonwealth Bank Classic

1999
2nd in 6th stage Commonwealth Bank Classic

2000
1st in 4th stage Tour de Langkawi
1st Tour de Okinawa
11th Olympic Points race on the Track in Sydney

2001
1st All China National Games Road Race
1st First Stage of the Path of King Nicolai
1st Stage of Super week USA
1st G.C. Tour of South China Sea
2nd Stage 1 of the Tour of South China Sea
1st Stage 2 of the Tour of South China Sea
1st Stage 3 of the Tour of South China Sea
1st Stage 4 of the Tour of South China Sea

2002
1st Stage 5 of the Tour of Wellington
1st Stage 7 of the Tour of Wellington

Any trade teams interested in having this rider in their team can contact the World Wide Cycling foundation through e-mail: organisation@worldwidecycling.com.

Check www.worldwidecycling.com/marcopolo.htm and become member of the Marco Polo Cycling Club