One of the benefits of the new Direct Asia sponsorship of ANZA is that we now get the chance to race alongside the well established Team Direct Asia. The team are mostly HK based (with a couple of SG riders) and get invites to some serious regional events such as the upcoming UCI rated Tour Of Perth and this race in Chengdu, China.
Team Direct Asia started the race with 9 guys – including the well experienced Paolo Caputo & John Tonk. As I was in the Chengdu vicinity on business, I came along to represent the SG chapter of the team.
The race itself was 123km doing multiple loops of a slightly hilly circuit. With 7-8 decent ramps and a total of 980m of climbing through the route, it looked like a tough day on paper. The field comprised of around 100 riders – including 20+ foreigners.
Our strategy was to take part in the attacks and breaks but to not push too hard unless we had decent TDA representation in any break & the break had sufficient mass to stay away & had good tactical opportunity.
The race was fireworks from KM 0 largely through to the end – some attacks were coordinated but most were totally wild and random with little chance of success. I initially got excited and was too active at the front but soon quietened down once I figured out that 120+ km is quite long….
The climbs on the road were similar to Faber steep side – ranging from 500-1000m in length – with max gradient up to 9%. We did this 4 times with the last climb coming 30km from the end. A few others & I offered accelerations to the bunch on the the steep climbs – the bunch elongated but never really cracked. The bunch was mainly cleaned from the back.
With 12km to the finish we decided to focus our efforts on supporting Paolo. I spent a lot of effort on the front during the last 10km chasing down some last attackers – much of which was done alone for 5-6km. This was the hardest point in the race for me as no other teams were helping & the local Chinese teams deployed the Barrage roadblock tactics as they had guys up the road.
Coming into the flamme rouge & last corner, the bunch was reduced to 20 riders at the front. 2 big crashes had put some guys down and split the bunch.
In the end, Paolo finished 2nd, John Tonk 10th, Rowdie 15th and myself in 19th. We earned 8500 rmb prize for our efforts.
Average speed for the race was 39.6+ km/hr and I burned over 4,000 calories.
The race and the logistic were well organized. 100% safe, perfect asphalt, decent crowds on the road sides and local TV channel coverage.
Everything was good with a Sichuan spicy Chinese taste! A great first outing for the combined TDA-ANZA team. I’m looking forward to racing in China again with more SG teammates!