Chinese whisper - Road Cycling UK

Expert road bike reviews and the latest road bike news, features and advice. Find rides & events, training articles and participate in our forums

Share

Racing News

Chinese whisper

Tour East

It was day two of my Christmas trip to Hong Kong and China, I was on Lantau Island, an hour by ferry from the main Hong Kong Island. It was surprisingly green, and very mountainous, and quieter than I’d expected. Riding a taxi along the coast I spotted a number of red flashing lights – it was night, and a local group of cyclists were out riding on one of the few roads around without deadly traffic, and most of them were on folding bikes too, something I’d never seen before, anywhere. Apparently with the need to travel around by ferries, and trains they have become popular, even in a recreational and sporting sense. The Hong Kong Cycling Federation have even created a race category and series especially for folding bikes, although it seems that competition has been suspended for a while; after sprinting across the line one riders bike folded up, thrusting him on to the back of his head and killing him. It really is an amazing and varied sport we have.

I’d been given details of a bike shop and some trails on the island, and was looking to hire a bike for the next day – and sure enough a top-notch bike shop was right there, Litespeed’s and all, it seems that where there is a will to ride there is a way.

Tour East

My reason for being here was the Tour of South China Sea, as previously reported, but until that minute I had no idea what it or the place was all about. It’s a UCI 2.2 category race, and is basically a series of travelling 100km critiriums, all held in suburban districts of HK, but mainly in mainland China, with a final hilly circuit race around Macau.

Things kicked off with a press conference in a suburb of HK, most unlike anything you’d see at a race in Europe; quite brief and low key. I’d looked through the last minute start list, and could recognise a number of top Asian riders, some decent Russians – and an old mate on mine; John Tonks. It had been over 20 years since we’d last met, and raced together. Back then he was a top British international, ex national champion, and winner in just about any discipline he turned his hand to. After stopping racing he moved to HK and became a teacher, and nine years on he’s still there and racing regularly again – even at the age of 42 he’s still notching up wins, and scraped the edges of the podium several times in this race; “Hong Kong is one of the worse places anywhere to ride a bike. There is a national park near my house, with a 20km out and back hilly concrete road, I just ride out and back again and again.” He remarked.

Tour East

The racing got underway early on Christmas morning, with a series of local races and trick cycling displays, it seems they teach kids to ride unicycles and small trick bikes from a very young age, and it’s quite impressive to see. The main race it’s self was fast, and controlled well by the combo of HK national and pro teams, lead by Kam Po Wong, Asian Games road Champion, and a big star in HK. The HK guys are surprisingly good, and well supported. They even had stagiers riding with Lampre last year, and the mainland Chinese are not far behind, with Fuyu Li having just signed for Discovery, and there’s a batch of good riders not far behind him.

Although the HK teams looked strongest, they were no match for the tactically supreme Russian Moscow Dynamo squad, who took 5 of the 6 stages of the race; including the hilly final stage; which gave their man Alexander Khatunstev the overall victory in his final race with the team, as he too will be joining the big league this year with Unibet. The only stage that escaped the Russians was stage 4, won by Wong.

Tour East

The Southeast Asian scene is hotting up now; in just a few days the Tour of Malaysia takes off, the original bike race in the country, which will see several national, regional and continental teams battling out for a week along a roads familiar to Le Tour de Langkawi, which follows it’s less illustrious cousin just 2 weeks later.

Sandwiched in between the two Malaysian races are the Tour Down Under, and the far less publicised Tour of Siam, a week-long stage race through Thailand, which attracts a similar field to Malaysia, so there’s plenty happening here.

Tour East

Share

Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.

production