Team Cyclingnews.com - 2005
Team Journal Entry - July 24, 2005, by Glen Chadwick
Tour of Qinghai Lake, China, July 16-24, 2005
In the beginning...
Hey Everybody, Well as the tour has begun and we've completed stage 3 there is still no sign of Monkey, Piggsy, Sandy or Tripitaka! So as we continue our search for enlightenment I'll give you a brief run down of the race thus far!
July 16 - Stage 1: Huangzhong - Xining, 101.2km
The stage started around 4:30 in the afternoon as we had the opening ceremony, with thousands of Chinese spectators - it would've given the Tour de France crowds a run, I reckon. So off the race went, basically 30km slightly downhill till we arrived onto an 8km circuit in Xining, there were numerous attacks as everyone was a bit frisky to get away in the right move. With around 50km to go a group formed off the front with Jeremy riding across to it we were quite happy to sit back and see what happens! The first few stages are very difficult with the altitude and in the cities with the pollution making it even harder! (To give you an idea of what its like, close your mouth, block one nostril and try and breathe through a straw with the other one while sprinting down the road at 50km/h!) The break stayed away with Jeremy finishing just down on the winning move and Sven also making it across to Jeremys group in the closing kilometres. The rest of us just stayed out of trouble, and although we lost three minutes to the winner of the stage we still had eight days to go with a lot of mountains, where over half an hour can be lost no problems! The first yellow jersey of the tour went to a Russian from the Omnibike Team.
July 17 - Stage 2: Xining - Qinghai Lake Hotel, 145.4km
Once again the stage started like a bull out of a gate! I think a few of these riders forget how long and how high we will end up racing with the big mountains and kilometres coming in the last half of the tour! Starting at 2250m and racing to 3419m you can guess that there was a little climb involved. With attack after attack it wasn't till around 60km that something finally stuck. Groups of 2-3 riders kept sneaking off the font till eventually 14 riders went clear. As we were gradually climbing from the beginning it wasn't till the 75km mark that we would hit the steepest section of today's climb. With Leigh setting a good tempo and me on his wheel he split the field into at least three groups; I took over the pace with roughly 4km to the top just to test the legs and see who were going to be the climbers of this tour. Over the top we were with 14 riders - a few stragglers managed to make contact with us down the other side and that was it; with 40km to go we started to pick up a few lads that had been dropped from the break away. I think by the finish we had about 25 in our group, the break away had worked well together and we never really pulled much time back on them. We lost five minutes to those guys, with Hossein Askari from Giant taking the yellow by one second!
July 18 - Stage 3: Qinghai Lake Hotel - Bird Island, 121.2km
Well I reckon this would nearly have to be the fastest stage ever ridden in the history of cycling that I have ever heard of! Correct me if I'm wrong but one of Cippollini's claims to fame was winning the fastest ever stage of the Tour de France at 55.1km/h (If your reading this Cipo, I'm sorry if its wrong!) I kid you not - we clocked a 57kph average for the windy 121km around the lake! I thought we were on the ocean as there were actual waves rolling in along the shore! With mainly a cross-tail wind and loads of gutter action we were all glad to see the back end of this stage! The bunch split several times through the stage with the first split coming after 15km or 15 minutes of racing! The main problem for a lot of riders was only having a 12 on their bikes (including a few of us) and spinning out in it! That's what hurt the most! The team managed to stay up front till we turned into a nasty cross wind after 80km. It was absolute chaos! Groups were forming everywhere, 20 guys were up front with Sven in it but as they rode through the feed zone there was only half the road to ride on because team feeders took up the other half! Several of the front runners were dropped! Unfortunately for Leigh a rider in front of him hit the end of feed zone sign which was on the edge of the road, taking himself down along with four others, including Leigh! To his credit he picked himself out of a ditch, climbed up a three metre embankment with bark off everywhere and a painful stomach and continued! Jeremy and I finished a minute down from the 12 leaders, and me attacking with 500m to go with another lad to finish 18th! This stage goes down as the hardest race that I can for the season so far! Hopefully nothing beats it!
So till next time I can find the net, all the best!
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