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Tales from the travellers the diary of Team Marco Polo
East Java Tour, June 27 - July 1 2005
Mt Bromo, monster volcano
By Nathan Dahlberg
Surabaya - population of 3 to 6 million people (no one really knows) and the second biggest city on the island of Java, the most densely populated island on earth. That was our base camp for the Tour of East Java, another new five-day stage race on the Indonesian and UCI calendar. Eddy Hollands and I (Nathan Dahlberg) have had previous experience in Indonesia, but for Rhys Pollock, Robin Reid and Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh (Oggi) this was an all-new country and very different race conditions than most countries, with steep large mountains to be climbed in stifling heat and humidity. With two mountain finishes in five days of racing and two of the other days being short criteriums this was not an opportunist or strong man's tour but rather one for the super climber. From the start the Giant Asia team were the guys to beat, with Iranian super climber Mizibani and his cohort Ahat obviously the strongest mountain men of the race.
With that in mind we launched aggressively into the first stage, which was
flat over 197 kilometres with the idea of taking time where we could. After
numerous attacks Oggi broke away with a handful of riders and spent 160 kilometres
pulling furiously. But with Giant's Irish rider Paul Griffin playing the Giant
watch dog and his breakaway companions tiring, the maximum lead of four minutes
was reduced to just 20 seconds by the chasing Giant riders.
Riding through glue
Again at the start there were numerous attacks and this time it was Robin Reid
playing watchdog over Mizibani and Polygon's Kazak rider Yevgeniy Yakolev as
they rode away to a seven minute lead.
Attack the yellow jersey in the criterium
The following day was a 56km crit on an L shaped circuit and really the final chance for us to take time from the climbers before the Mt Bromo mountain finish the following day. Rob and I started attacking from the word go, and after several laps a break formed up with the majority of the better teams involved, including both Poloygon Kazaks, Casino Philippine riders, Wismilaks Samai, Malaysian National team riders and both Robin and myself. Robin and the Kazak Yakolev were riding for the jersey. The lead got up to almost 50 seconds however Giant finally managed to rally a chase behind which reduced the lead to just 15 seconds by the finish - Samai easily wasted us all in the sprint and Robin got fourth which meant missing the time bonus and yellow jersey. It now went to Yakolev. However, the first 10 places overall were all separated by seconds and we were still awaiting the following days 'big climb'.
Mount Bromo - monster Volcano
Mt Bromo - this is hard to describe as I've never seen a climb like it. Rising 2300 metres out of the sea, someone had hung a road straight up this monster Volcano. When I looked at Yakolev's back wheel and saw a 32 sprocket on there (he had previously trained up Mt Bromo) I was more than happy that I was no longer in GC contention. If one took the hardest Tour de France pass and added another 700 metres of climbing at the end in just five kilometres it would be something like Mt Bromo.
Again we attacked from the start and again Oggi got away, this time getting
a 12 minute lead which seemed pretty substantial with just 30 kilometres of
a 136 kilometre stage to go. Behind him constant attacks saw another group with
Eddy and Robin go, but also Yakolev and Ahat!
43 minute stage
We still had plans to attack on the last day but with an almost circular circuit and being only 34 kilometres long the final criterium was more a circus than a race, with a 48km/h average - Samai of Wismilak again won easily. It was a little disappointing for us all after the hard battles the days before but credit must go to the Giant guys who dominated us pretty much throughout. On our side it was also a very satisfactory performance as we are basically a road race team with no specialists either for the mountains or criteriums and this was very much a specialist's race. Also we were practically the only ones who challenged the lead (although the Poloygon Kazaks did their best) which made it extra difficult, but left us with second in teams and third overall on individual GC.
As for Tour of East Java, they are already planning for next year and the dreaded Mt Bromo will be back!
For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here
Images by Francis Cerny Cycling Photography/Francis Cerny
Marco Polo Cycling Team
Tel/fax +31 24 3606301; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information on the Marco Polo Cycling Club and its travels, visit: www.marcopolocycling.com