Wu's effort sole SAR highlight

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 04 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 04 May, 2006, 12:00am

The Hong Kong team suffered a disappointing start in the opening stage of the Tour of Hong Kong-Shanghai with only promising youngster Wu Kin-san able to finish in the top 10.

Belgian rider Geert Steurs, of the Pictoflex Bikeland Hyundai team, won the 128-kilometre criterium, finishing the 16-lap course in Jiangwan in the northern part of Shanghai municipality in two hours, 47 minutes and 34 seconds.

Wu (pictured), who will join Italian team Lampre-Fondital of Italy this summer for July's Tour of Qinghai Lake, caught the leading pack with seven laps to go but failed to sustain his momentum and had to settle for 10th in 2.58.27.

Second place went to Bradley Hall of City of Perth Cycling Team in 2.58.02 while Nederiof Lex of American team Vergesport was third in 2.58.02.

A total of 77 riders from 13 teams participated in the inaugural UCI grade 2.2 race which offers prize money of $300,000.

Steurs, who won a domestic race in Belgium last week, attacked with six kilometres to go and nobody could go with him.

'I am not a sprinter and that's why I had to attack so early before the finish,' the 24-year-old Steurs said. 'If I had waited for a mass sprint before the finish, I would have hardly had any chance.

'[Today's] race will be tougher as I will become the target of all riders for putting on the yellow jersey. I know it is going to be a flat course again, and I'll just work my best to see how far I can go.'

Despite the defeat, Wu said it was not a bad result considering the flat course. Also, he was just picking up his form after breaking a bone in his chest during a race in Shanghai two weeks ago.

'I had used up a lot of energy in catching the leading pack and unfortunately I lacked the stamina to mount another attack in the final lap,' said Wu, who turns 21 today. 'But it was still good to be up there among the leaders. My form is now getting better and I hope I can improve on this.'

The youngster said he was eager to do well on his birthday in today's second stage - a 20-lap, 125km leg in Kunshan.

'My elder sister called me the other day, congratulating me on my forthcoming birthday and wishing me a good run in my birthday race. I don't want to let her down,' Wu said.

Hong Kong coach Shen Jinkang said his charges would following the opening stage, which had given them a better feel of how a flat-course race would be.

'Tactically we are fine as we have Wu in the leading pack, while Cheung King-wai also attacked in the final stages, although he failed to gain ground. But that has proved we can work as a team to support the members,' he said.

Hong Kong's ace rider Wong Kam-po, racing for his French team Tarbes Pyrenees Cyclistme, finished 28th.