Cyclingnews TV   News  Tech   Features   Road   MTB   BMX   Cyclo-cross   Track    Photos    Fitness    Letters   Search   Forum  

Recently on

Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Click for larger image
Photo: © Franklin Reyes

Papillon: The Joe Papp Diary 2004

Joe Papp is a UCI Elite rider with the UPMC cycling team. He was a double stage winner at the 2003 Vuelta a Cuba (UCI 2.5) and in 2002 won the GS Mengoni Grand Prix, the BMC NYC Cycling Classic for elite amateur men and a stage at Superweek, among other events. Joe's writing is good enough to make boring races intriguing and intriguing races captivating.

Tour of Korea - 2.5, Korea, June 12-20, 2004


Stage 2 - June 14: Chun Chon - Dae Kwan Mountain, 156 km

Prologue winner Alejandro Acton (ACT-UPMC)
Photo ©: Joe Papp
Click for larger image
Gerardo Castro,
Photo ©: Joe Papp
Click for larger image

Forgettable stage for me and disappointing stage for Jerry and Coto. Lots of climbing today - four substantial rollers (if you can call climbs of four to seven minutes "rollers") in the first 40km, then a wickedly-steep KOM, then a long, long uncategorized climb that would have been a KOM in any other UCI stage race that I've ridden, then a gentle KOM at 130km and finally a gradual uphill for the last 20km to the line.

The field exploded on the first KOM and only Jerry and Coto made it over the top in the lead group, with David McCann of Ireland torturing them the entire way. I was just swinging off the back of this group and caught on the short descent with a Marco Polo rider and another Aussie from MGZT. Eneas caught back on soon thereafter, but made mistake of attacking on the gradual uphill leading to the uncategorized "feed zone" mountain that came at 97km. The last I would see of him until the finish was on the first pitch of the real climb. The field came apart a second time and I had to laugh at the thought of trying to grab a bottle, let alone a musette bag, while struggling uphill at 15kph.

The twisty descent after the climb was marred by road works, including long gravel stretches that caused a variety of punctures. Unfortunately, Coto was one of those who flatted and it cost him his position in the lead group. This was a definite disappointment, since he is riding very strongly and would have been in a great position to catapult up the GC. As it was, both he and Jerry finished a few minutes in arrears of the winner, and I came in about 10min back with a group that included a Giant Asia rider, one from MGZT, a Filipino and lots of Koreans.

On the final climb to the line, the local riders started attacking each other because they've got a strong interest in the GC classification for Korean teams. Since I was the third rider from ACT-UPMC on the road, and our team stage placing would be based on when I got my carcass to the line, I might have had a go of it too, if my legs weren't completely shattered.

We regrouped at the top of Dae Kwan Mountain, where we learned that Alejandro and Ryan had both been forced, literally, into the bus and were prevented from finishing the stage! The organizers are having such a difficult time controlling traffic on the roads and ensuring the safety of the riders that they simply decided that anyone more than a few minutes off the back of the leader after the feed zone climb would be retired for the day, put in the bus, given a time penalty and allowed to start tomorrow's stage.

I don't think Alejandro was complaining, since it meant that he would have 60km less suffering in his legs at the start of tomorrow's circuit race in Kang Leung, but the decision struck me as being odd nonetheless. Perhaps with a 200 rider field the commissaires would be quicker to eliminate riders, but for now they're trying to maintain the size of the field in order to offer some spectacle to the public.

We drove over the other side of the mountain into downtown Kang Leung, the largest city on the east coast of South Korea and historically one of its most vibrant. Apparently Kang Leung was famous for the intellectuals it produced during various phases of Korean history, such as the Joseon Dynasty, but now with its many historical sites and nearby East Sea beaches (plus the Dragon Valley ski resort), it's a popular tourist center. We're staying in the Victoria Park motel, which is only a block away from the finish of tomorrow's stage around Kyung Po Lake.


Email Joe at