Wong's win boost for Asian Cycling

By Shane Stokes in Palma

He may have started out in the scratch race final on Friday evening as one of the lesser known riders, but Hong Kong’s Kam Po Wong showed great timing and strength to take the gold medal in the event. Sensing the moment was right, he jumped inside the final ten laps, going clear at a point when the bunch stalled after a succession of hard laps. The 34 year old quickly built a half-lap lead and came in well ahead of Wim Stroetinga (Netherlands), Rafal Ratajczyk (Poland), plus the rest of the field.

“I came to the world championship for the points race but my coach said to me that I could also do the scratch race,” he told Cyclingnews after his win. “I said okay, there will be no real pressure there and in the end, I raced very well.”

Finding the right moment to go was crucially important to his success. “I had a meeting with my coach before and he said to me that I will only have one opportunity to get a real gap. The timing will be very important, and that worked out well. In the last three laps I felt like I was running out of power, I was slowing down, but I looked across to the side of the track and saw the riders over there and thought that maybe I still had a chance. I said to myself that I would keep trying, and it worked out perfectly.”

UCI President Pat McQuaid said that the win was very significant for Asian cycling, and also for the general globalisation of cycling.

“It is wonderful for me to see Kam Po Wong win a world title,” said Pat McQuaid, currently attending the Majorcan event. “It is very significant in terms of the development of the sport, that an Asian rider can come to the world championships and not only compete, but to win at this level.

“I first encountered him when I was organising the Tour of the Philippines over ten years ago and have seen him at many times during his career, at the Tour de Langkawi and other races. He has had a very good career and he is close to the end of that now, being 34 years of age. It is wonderful that he has taken a world title at this stage.”

Wong seemed almost unable to believe what he had achieved. It is an unexpected victory and one which will be savoured for a long time. “I am very happy with this because although I have won a lot in Asia, taking a stage of the Tour de Langkawi and in other races, I found it very hard to win at world level. But this time, at 34 years of age, it has worked.

“I have been cycling for 15 years and in the last two seasons I felt at times that I wanted to stop. But I decided to continue on until next year's Olympics, as they are so important for my country. I will try once more for the Games and then after that I think I will retire.

“These last two years have been very good because I don't feel any pressure. I won the Asian games road race and won stages in many Asian races in the past. The GC is not possible any more because my climbing is down but I have taken stages in the Tour of South China Sea, Hong Kong, the Tour of Thailand and others. I recently took a stage in the Tour of Taiwan and felt that perhaps my form was okay [prior to the worlds]. It has all worked out very well.”

Wong will line out in the points race tomorrow but is taking nothing for granted. “I must try first to qualify for the final, the world championships are very hard. If I qualify I will try to do something in the race.”

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