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Trek - Marco Polo team diary
Riders of the China-registered Trek - Marco Polo Cycling Team report in from races around the world. Founded in 2000 and named after the famous traveler, Marco Polo, the team's mission is to provide talented cyclists from non-traditional cycling countries an opportunity to develop into world-class professionals. Formerly the development squad for the Discovery Channel team, Trek Bikes took over the main sponsorship position.
In 2008, Fuyu Li is one of the key riders of the team, and he will prepare to represent the host country at the Olympic road race in Beijing under the guidance of experienced team directors and team-mates like Bart Brentjens (former Olympic and World Champion) and Leon van Bon (winner of two Tour de France stages and Olympics and World’s medalist).
Next to the Trek – Marco Polo Cycling Team, Marco Polo Cycling also manages the Bike4All foundation that supports the development of cycling in poor development countries.
Read about the history of the team.
Tour of Hainan 2008
Race on Treasure Island
By Remko Kramer
The Tour of Hainan is on the tropical Island of Hainan in the south of China, which has the nice white beaches, the blue sea and palm trees like Treasure Island, and which had some treasures for the Discovery Channel Marco Polo Cycling Team.
The first treasure was our first stay in a nice resort hotel directly at the beach. So we (the staff) took a dive in the nice warm water before we started to work to get everything ready for the prologue and seven stages ahead of us.
The team was in good shape and had a good combination of strong and fast riders and a good climber. It was like we are used to with Marco Polo Cycling an international mix. We had two Chinese, Liu Yilin and Xing Yan Dong, Sergey Kudentsov our fast sprinter from Russia, Eddy Hollands from Australia, Bradley White from the USA and climber Thijs Zonneveld from the Netherlands, together with soigneur/photographer Francis Cerny from Germany, and mechanic Henk Zuidema and me from the Netherlands, a great group to work with.
Treasure 2 – Miss World
The next treasure we got was delivered at the opening ceremony, about 30 misses from all over the world were present as guests. The miss world contest took place at Hainan, so they were invited to warm up the riders for the 3 km prologue. The opening ceremony was a spectacular show with famous Chinese singers. Along with dance performances and fireworks it was an impressive opening.
Our Brad White had a strong performance in the 3 km prologue of the Tour of Hainan. After 70 riders finished he still had the best time and was waiting in the 'hot chair'. However five riders still beat his time and ended within 3,5 seconds.
Treasure 3 – stage victory
The next treasure we took the next day. It was Discovery Channel Marco Polo Team rider Sergey Kudentsov who won the first stage of the Tour of Hainan in China. With a strong team performance by Eddy Hollands in the break of the day, Thijs Zonneveld present when about 10 top riders got away and a great team chase by Chinese Liu Yilin and Xing Yan Dong, Brad White who launched Sergey in a good position into the last kilometer and Sergey finishing like a rocket passing the remainders of the break-away and taking this stage win with two bike length!
Hainan is a beautiful tropical island, with sandy beaches and lots of palm trees. Along the roads we see many rice fields and typical Chinese villages. The riders however have no time to look after the nice scenery, they have to be aware all the time, because of the strong wind all the time.
Hainan also had some bad surprises for some riders. Japanese Shimizu, from Nippo, was one of the victims in the strong crosswind, he took "riding in the gutter" too literally... Also Marco Polo rider Brad White had bad luck and broke his collarbone and had to stop the race. And in the mass sprint of stage three at a speed of over 60 kilometers per hour there were two crashes within the last kilometer and one even 10 meters behind the finish line!
The second crash was at 200 meters to go, when a rider from Hong Kong pulled out of his pedal, taking down about 15 riders at top speed... main victim was Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh (Marco Polo rider but here in the Mongolia National Team) who broke his foot; his shoe was found about 10 meters away from him...
After stage three, the peloton checked in one of the most luxurious hotels with great Chinese food in a restaurant at the 31st floor turning slowly around to give a great view over the city of Haikou and the coast line of Hainan. A nice addition to the beautiful resort hotels the race stayed in so far.
Treasure 4 – another stage victory
The next treasure we received at Hainan was another stage win by Sergey in stage four!
Treasure 5 – the yellow jersey!
And stage five brought even more treasure, after some climbs there was a big group that broke away, a quick count showed that we could take great advantage here. So the Discovery Channel Marco Polo Team guys worked and kept the group together and the third place from Sergey got him into the yellow jersey!
Too bad that stage 6 had a huge climb close to the finish. Sergey fought as hard as he could, stayed with the front way up the climb, but this was just too much for his fast sprinting legs.
Treasure 6 – the closing ceremony
Our last treasure from Hainan, "Treasure Island", was the great closing ceremony in the garden of the Asia Pacific Convention Centre. It was a spectacular show with the teams and guests in the middle of fireworks during the awards ceremony and Chinese music artists playing during the dinner.
With Chinese delicacies from buffet and barbeque and a complete calf at the grill, the dinner was delicious. With plenty of beer and good wine the teams celebrate all together, into the warm night, the end of a great cycling race on the island of Hainan in China. Our compliments go to the organizers from the Tour of Hainan for taking care of a well organized event on this beautiful island of China.