Wong savours second success
Wong Kam-po finished the inaugural Tour of Hong Kong-Shanghai with an impressive double, racing to his second stage victory in the race after he powered home to clinch the fourth and final leg in Sha Tin yesterday.
Racing on a 60-kilometre circuit along the Shing Mun River where Wong was brought up, the 33-year-old surged ahead with 1,000 metres left, edging out Tim Meeusen of Belgium and Harry Darren of Perth, who were second and third respectively. All three were awarded the same time of one hour, 25 minutes and 24 seconds.
'My home is just 500m away and perhaps that gave me extra stamina for the strong finish,' said a smiling Wong. 'But I had been in a very good position throughout the race and was in the leading pack with only 2,000m to go. When other riders started sprinting in the final kilometre, I also picked up my speed and sprinted to the finish to win.'
Wong, who also came first in the previous stage at the Asia-World Expo at Chek Lap Kok on Saturday, said winning two stages had been his pre-tour target.
'Many of my teammates are not used to racing on a flat course and have seldom raced against Asian riders and that's why we did not do very well in the opening two races in China.
'But they improved as the tour progressed and were able to give me the required assistance,' said Wong, who raced for French side Tarbes Pyrenees Cyclistme.
Geert Steurs of Belgium, who won the opening stage in Shanghai and finished in the front pack in the three following stages, came first in the overall standings with an accumulated time of 9:10:01. Nederlof Lex of the United States was second, while Japanese Koki Shinbo was third.
Wong filled 11th place overall while 21-year-old Lam Kai-tsun finished the best of the Hong Kong team in ninth. Another youngster, Tang Wang-yip, 21, was 15th.
The overall winner took home a cheque for $15,000 and another $6,000 for a stage win. Total prize money was $300,000.
'I am very happy to win the overall yellow jersey,' said Steurs. 'I had a very good start in the tour and although I lost the yellow jersey on the second day, I claimed it back immediately on the following day and kept it until the end.'
In the team classification, Aisan of Japan took the honours in 27.59.52 and the City of Perth were second in 28.02.58, while the PuraPharm Hong Kong team were four seconds further back.
'We are a very young team in the absence of Wong,' said Hong Kong coach Shen Jinkang.
'We only had Cheung King-wai finish third in the second stage in Kunshan but I am still very satisfied with our overall team performance.
'Our youngsters always found themselves in the breakaway pack, which means they have improved their teamwork and fitness levels, but they could not quite get on to the victory podium.'