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Trek - Marco Polo team diary

Sea Keong Loh (Discovery Channel Marco Polo)
Photo ©: Shane Goss
(Click for larger image)

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.

Trek Marco Polo Team - www.dcmpteam.com, www.marcopolocyclingteam.com

Read about the history of the team.

Index to all entries

End of the season race in Hainan

By Loh Sea Keong (Malaysia)

Trek-Marco Polo leading the peloton
Photo : Song Guoqiang
(Click for larger image)

Hainan island is considered the "Hawaii of China". This island's economy is highly boosted by tourism and agriculture because of its warmer climate. You can even see lots of foreign shops in the towns of Hainan, such as Russian, European and also Asian.

Hard race in strong field

The race is more suited for a roller and sprinter as it only has one real climb, the rest being only small, rolling hills and long flat stages. The one element to make a difference is the wind. It has been playing a major role in deciding the overall classification contenders already for the last two years. This year it was the same, amidst a very strong field. There were Asian teams like Meitan Hompo, Tabriz from Iran and Giant Asia, but also Jelly Belly from the USA, Panasonic from Australia and teams from Europe like Cosmote Castro and Sparkasse from Germany; national teams from Denmark, Switserland, Poland, Ukraine, Kazakhsatantan and Russia complketed the field.

So there is no time to enjoy the "Hawaii view" of sandy beaches and palm trees during the race.

Expected power houses were Russians, Kazakhs, Polish, Ukrainean and also the Trek - Marco Polo Cycling Team as it is strong in riding in the winds and gutter.

From the beginning of the race, my team had a few cards to play, as we have Sergey Kudentsov for flat stages. He won two stages last year and also wore the yellow jersey for one stage. For the climbing stages we have Jai Crawford. And also the Chinese riders FuYu Li, Xing YangDong, Liu YiLin and Han Feng could land some surprises in GC and stages.

Russian domination

Jai Crawford (Marco Polo)
Photo : Charlie Issendorf
(Click for larger image)

The Russians dominated seven days of racing in the flats including the first-day prologue win. They took almost everything by winning five stages and came in second two other times. One rider made an outstanding performance by winning the flat and also the mountain stage, which is yellow jersey winner, Russian Boris Shpilevsky. Superman-performance is what I can say. He continued to win the last two stages, leaving him with winning six stages, plus two twice in the runner-up spot. In one stage he was only 29th... He was racing like Lance Armstrong in the Tour or like Eddy Merckx, a Canibal!

Our team was not going so good as we had hoped before the race. Missing some of the action during the race, as Sergey Kudentsov only was able to finish fourth place on first stage.

Fuyu Li was starting well, he got 17th in the prologue, only seven seconds from the winner. Then in stage two he took first, second and second in the intermediate sprints, earning him fifth overall. Looking good. But unluckyly he missed the overall GC split on stage 4 and lost his fifth place GC standing.

Jai Crawford finished eighth in stage 7, and fifth in the mountain classification jersey after really hard work.

Marco Polo in the break
Photo : Guoqiang Song
(Click for larger image)

Crawford described this year's race. "I have ridden Tour of Hainan twice now and each year the island has put on perfect weather for racing. The race is too flat and windy for my qualities but its still a really nice race to do in one of the most beautiful parts of China which has some of the friendliest people, too.

"The racing was tough with a number of very good national teams taking part; despite some good form the race wasn't really for me and a crash on the windiest day made me lose a few minutes plus the chance of a high GC."

This was the last race of the season, as some of the team members will change team next year. I really want to thanks those guys for helping me so much for the whole season this year such as Sergey, Rhys, Jai, and Leon. Hope you guys will have your greater days in the future .

Chinese Championships

In the week after the Tour of Hainan, the Chinese riders from the Trek Marco Polo Cycling Team used the form they got from racing in this strong competition. All four of them finished top 10. Fuyu Li took third and Liu Yilin became the new Chinese Champion!