By Greg Johnson
Australian Jai Crawford is determined to return to the Tour of Qinghai Lake for another attempt at the event, after enjoying his first race in true altitude at the July race. The Tasmanian, who is busy searching for a new squad for 2008, hopes to have a better shot in the future after finding the Chinese race an exciting challenge.
"I did enjoy the experience and I would like to go back and accept the challenge once again; the harder the race, the more hungry it makes you to succeed," he said after returning to Australia. "Maybe next time I can be prepared with a little acclimatising before hand."
Crawford had hoped to put in a stellar performance at the race to help secure a European contract for 2008, but the Giant Asia rider was surprised by the lack of gradient on the event's stages. The climber admitted to battling with his first race in high altitude, with the majority of the nine day's race taking place between three and four kilometres above sea level, in addition to long .
"I didn't achieve the results I was looking for in Qinghai but I still didn't disgrace myself and probably shouldn't have hoped for much better on my first attempt at altitude," said Crawford. "It is yet to be seen if what I did there has had any impact on my future. I hope what I showed was that despite not being able to climb as per usual, I kept my head and continued to try every day.
"I have shown my climbing ability in Langkawi and other races this year, races where it is possible to breath and I feel like I can only improve given this is easily the most racing I have done in a season," he said. "Furthermore, it appears as if the sport is on its way to becoming clean and this is going to benefit riders like myself no end."
Crawford heads back to China this week for the Beijing test event, followed by the Tour of Korea. The youngster is also hopeful his squad will gain entry to Melbourne's Sun Tour, which he would contest before a final block of UCI 2.2 races in the tours of Okinawa, Indonesia and Thailand.