China, April 23, 2006
Team DFL-Cyclingnews hit the Tour of Chong Ming Island
We set off to Chong Ming Island for a five day tour, flying into Shanghai before catching the bus to the docks where we boarded the ferry - it was a very long day of travel. During the bus trip we got sandwiched by a truck and a wall in this long dark dirty tunnel; the truck ripped the mirror off and then we hit a car behind us while trying to get off the truck. Some good abuse was thrown out by the drivers!
We stayed in the one hotel which made things easy, and as the island is pretty small (about 80km long and 20km wide) we did a few loops to get the distance for each stage.
The Team - Bernie (Badger), Cam (Worm), Leigh (Tank), Tom (Ratboy), Sven (Monty) and me
Stage 1 - April 15: Yingtong - Xingxin, 102.5 km
This was a criterium circuit. A 4km loop on big roads. We all had a few attacks on this day, but with the high speed of the peloton nothing stayed away and it came down to a bunch sprint. Ratboy blew a tyre in the corner and brought down Badger, saying afterwards, "I didn't even take my hands off the bars, it was so fast." No big damage, just a loss of skin which he had to try and keep from getting infected during the week.
Stage 2 - April 16: Zhongying Stage: Chongxi, 179 km
Monty and I went on a few attacks today, resulting in the pack splitting - there were 30 riders in the lead group, with the yellow jersey among them (Rob McLachlan from Drapac). I attacked with 18km to go, but the block head wind for the last 10km pulled me up short - so with 3km to go I got caught. Badger mixed it up in the sprint.
Stage 3 - April 17: Yongguan Stage: Chongdong, 126 km
A bit of a shorter day, but it was pretty hard with the strong winds. It split up into three groups, with Badger, Worm and Sven making the front group. The South Africans were aggressive this day which split the field and caught me out in the the middle of the pack having a good talk to the Chinese riders. Again Badger featured in the sprint. He ended up second due to a disqualification of the South African rider, who deviated from his line in the sprint.
Stage 4 - April 18: Yusheng Stage: Chongbei, 204 km
After yesterday's stage Badger was close on GC, so the plan today was to try and go for the sprints for some bonus time. We worked hard all day keeping it together, resulting in Badger gaining some time with a few second places. But the final sprint didn't work out the best. Badger was still up there on GC, however, although it was a hard day at the front for a long stage. Good work, boys!
Stage 5 - April 19: Longcang-Wangshi around Chongming Island, 147 km
Last day. Word at the breakfast table was that a few teams were going to attack. Our aim for the day was to keep or better our positions in the team and individual GC. So after a few teams went on the attack we tried our luck. All of us hard a go except Badger. Some nice attacks, but full credit to the Drapac boys on controlling the race for the yellow jersey. Things split up in the last 25km, with a group up the road. Our last chance was to ride for the sprint for Badger. We got it back for a sprint finish, but the last 5km was a bit crazy, resulting in a crash. Worm and Monty went down - some skin off for Worm for the flight home and Monty the cat landed on his feet at 60km/h. Once again Badger had a good sprint, but missed the time bonuses.
Overall it was a good tour for the team - third in the teams classification and Badger was fourth on GC.
The island had some great food to try, which some of the riders had trouble with. Put it this way - we had alot of fried rice that week. Ratboy and a few others liked the KFC menu better which was just round the corner. There was some good shops which offered some deals for the boys - DVD's were a hit until we got home and played them; really good picture, but no sound. You win some and you lose some!
Good times on the island. The trip home was an epic, with an extra two hours to Frankfurt due to strong headwinds which meant we missed our connecting flight. It was then three hours' wait till next flight; we got into Brussels, and no bags! Some good facial/body expressions from team members ensued, with some of us trying to laugh and others not...it happens!
Everything worked out, with our bags arriving the next day. Best thing to do was get on the bike with a ride to the coffee shop. Get some blood to the legs (ride off the kankles) and then relax with a brew at the LOFT.
Till next time bye bye for now.
Kane "Munge" Oakley