World Wide Cycling
A selection of the Marco Polo Cycling Club has traveled to China to participated in the Tour de China 2001. This years tour took place in Inner-Mongolia, July 26th to 29th. One of the favourites for the victory was the president of the club; Nathan Dahlberg. He was helped by Raymond Raadtgever, Casper Helling, Andries Bosma and Rob Conijn. Sprinter Dennis Hammink was going for stage wins and the points jersey.
Report (by Team Manager Anno Pedersen):
The team had four days in Beijing for getting used to the time difference and changes of food and climate. According to the Marco Polo jetlag and survival strategy, long training rides where done from day one (90; 120 and 170 km), meals where ordered where the locals eat (they know how to stay healthy). With training and touristing the days where full and everybody slept well.
The traffic in Beijing is chaotic, but slow, great for some rodeo riding, motor pacing and high speed manoeuvrings. The Chinese act like they see a bunch of crazy bike riders every day! Of course we had our own team crit on the Tianmen square again. After the four days in Beijing, we took the night train to Hohhot City, Inner Mongolia and in the train we slept very well too, in the ‘hard sleepers’, no extra luxury for us. On the train we met our strongest competitors for the race, the Kazakhstan national team with Kravchenko and Lavreneko, the numbers one and two from the GC in 2000.
No touristing anymore from now, the race starting tomorrow and we are here to win. Talks with riders and a team meeting, team managers meeting and other preparations fill my day. I am here not only as team director, but also as massager and mechanic. The team budget cannot bear costs of airplane tickets so one fool has to suffer… Is this what they call investing in a great project? A lot of work to be done, but Nathan and Dennis are also excellent mechanics and know what’s going on. The riders will get the rest they need, not me though…
The profile of the stages is not really mountainous, every second will be important, is our judgement, this will turn out to be true. Teams from Japan (national), Australia, Hong Kong (national), Taipei, Mongolia (national) and China have also turned up and fill the 62 rider field.
In the first stage Nathan gets the chance to gain time, in a four riders group. We decide that this is a great opportunity and start blocking in the pack. Lavrenenko is in the leading group, but not Kravchenko. Lavrenenko wins the stage and gains four bonus seconds on Dahlberg who finishes second.
The podium after the first stage, from left to right, Nathan Dahlberg, Sergei Lavrenenko and Kanou Tomoya. (Photographer: Rob Conijn)
1. Sergei Lavrenenko Kazakstan national 3.41.59 10
2. Nathan Dahlberg Marco Polo CC 0.00 6
3. Tomoya Kanou Japan National 0.01 4
4. Hillton Mc Murdo Australia 0.01
5. Dennis Hammink Marco Polo CC 2.06
6. Shinri Suzuki Japan National 2.06
7. Tang Xuezhong Beijing 2.06
8. Vadim Kravchenko Kazakstan national 2.06
9. Steven Harcolit Australia 2.08
10. Chun Daehong Taipei team 2.08
In the second stage the peloton splinters on a gravel road, the Kazaks start riding right after this and in the crosswind a first echelon of thirteen riders breaks away. The group breaks in the final, Nathan attacks and drops Lavrenenko on a climb, here Dennis jumps from the second part and comes back in the Lavrenenko group. The strong Kazak comes back to Dahlberg, but Dennis waiting on his wheel. After a wild sprint with B-World Champion Tang, Hammink wins the 220km stage through the Gobi-desert. Casper and Raymond are in the second part of the group and lose 5 minutes: no win in the team classment, the Kazaks will not give us these five minutes back, that’s for sure…
Dennis Hammink wins the sprint of the second stage, 220 KM through the Gobi-dessert. (Photographer: Keita Ichimura)
Gobi desert 220km
1. Dennis Hammink Marco Polo CC 5.38.08 10
2. Tang Xuezhong Beijing 0.00 5
3. Ulzii Orshikh Jamsran Mongolia National 0.00 4
4. Sergei Lavrenenko Kazakstan National 0.00
5. Nathan Dahlberg Marco Polo CC 0.00
6. Assan Bazayev Kazakstan National 0.01
7. Makoto Ijima Taipei Team Giant 0.01
8. Pavel Nedakh Kazakstan National 0.02
9. Vadim Kravchenko Kazakstan National 0.10
10. Bakhtiyar Maminov Kazakstan National 5.29
Hotels turn out to be great, we enjoy the luxury, but it makes the trip a lot less heroic… Organisation of the event is good, despite some communication problems with the Chinese (does yes mean yes or no, I’m still wondering). The commissaires are hard to understand, feeding from the car or not, after the first stage we notice that real times are being used and not the time of the first rider in the group, etc.. Let’s say things are sometimes different from traditional racing and if you don’t want that, better stay home!
Dennis Hammink gives an interview for Chinese national television, how many people watch this?? (Photographer; Andries Bosman)
Third stage: 4 riders break away in the beginning. After 180 km breakaway, Korean Chun Daehong just makes it, before Dennis who wins another sprint.
Taipei Team Giant
In the last stage, the criterium Dahlberg has his last chance to win back the 4 seconds on Lavrenenko. He attacks several times, but the Kazak sitting glued to his back wheel. We decide to go for the stage win first to divide attention of the Kazaks and play the Dennis-card, he gets away with three others. Dennis doesn't make enough time-difference to win GC, so Nathan starts attacking again. Lavrenenko gives everything and just makes it.
Dennis opens the Champagne after winning his second stage of the Tour de China. (Photographer; Anno Pedersen)
Dennis wins the stage, Nathan second on GC, Dennis third and wins points classment. Marco Polo second in team GC, behind Kazaks.
Hohhot City 80 km Criterium
Final GC after four stages:
1. Sergei Lavrenenko Kazakstan national 15.48.55
2. Nathan Dahlberg Marco Polo CC 0.03
3. Dennis Hammink Marco Polo CC 1.06
4. Makoto Ijima Taipei Team Giant 1.45
5. Tang Xuezhong Beijing 2.03
6. Ulzii Orshikh Jamsran Mongolia National 2.19
7. Pavel Nedakh Kazakstan National 2.35
8. Vadim Kravchenko Kazakstan National 2.41
9. Assan Bazayev Kazakstan National 3.16
10. Denis Tupchenko Kazakstan National 7.32
Final Team Classment:
Final Points Classment
1. Dennis Hammink Marco Polo CC 50 points
2. Chun Daehong Taipei Team Giant 20
3.Tang Xuezhong Beijing 20
Dennis and Nathan receive flower chains and applause as number 2 and 3 on the G.C. of the Tour de China 2001. (Photographer; Anno Pedersen)
We travel back to Beijing in the hard sleepers the next day, have two hours in Beijing to catch our flight home.
Nathan leaves for Ulan Bator, Mongolia to visit our friend and Marco Polo member Ulzii Jamsran Orshikh, famous Asian rider and second in the B-World Championships this year. Ulzii has been riding successfully on our European program this year.
We are very thankful for the Calbee-organisation of Mr. Ichimura and for the hospitality of the Chinese. Happy with the results, but with burning ambition for the GC-win next year, we leave.