While many of us are tucking into seconds of turkey and stuffing others can be found around the world racing for all they’re worth, Steve Thomas reports from, one such place.
Season’s greetings from China! It’s a strange old world at times, while you guys back home are bust tucking into your turkey and shivering away I’ll be bypassing the Queens speech for a Chinese commissaries speech, definitely not in the usual Christmas fancy dress club race kinda way.
I’m here in China for the annual Tour of the South China Seas, a regional continental stage race which starts in Hong Kong on Christmas Day before hitting mainland China for a few days, and ultimately returning to the old colonial outpost on the 30th December. This is just one of the many races around the world that actually takes place at Christmas. Our sport is truly global and diverse, and this is a classic example of this.
Regional teams from Europe, USA, and Australia will line up against national and pro teams from all over Asia to do battle for the race honours. Quality mainstream racers of all kinds – including world track champions, turn out here to race against the locals, and generally come out second best! For this particular race Hong Kong local boy Wong Kam Po can be anticipated to be the main force, especially considering his recent win in the Asian Games and his multiple past victories here, and I will be reporting on the event during the next week or so, hopefully giving distinctly different taste to seasonal racing.
Christmas racing isn’t exactly new; many of us have raced in Boxing Day cyclo cross and New Years Day time trials over the years, but it spreads much further and on a much higher level than that.
In Belgium the Christmas week is one of the busiest and richest weeks of the year for cross racers, with top riders from all over Europe turning out for the daily races throughout the week. In Ireland this used to be the traditional Hamper Race week, although since the retirement of King Kelly the date and event has shifted some, and the event no longer carries the status of having many of the world’s top racers battling away against the locals in the handicap event around Carrick.
Perhaps the biggest seasonal festival of cycling is that of the Christmas Carnival series in Tasmania, Australia. Over a number of days riders move around the dramatic and chilly southern island from one outdoor velodrome to another, primarily taking part in handicap distance races, and often for huge prizes. Top road and track riders from all around the world turn out for this prestigious series.
So, as you demolish your third Christmas pudding spare a thought for your fellow two wheeled compatriots, who will be suffering in far flung corners of the globe, and even a little closer to home! And don’t forget to check in here to see what’s happening in China and elsewhere.