Let’s be realistic: Cheung King-lok needs time before he can compete in the Tour de France
Orica GreenEdge general manager says the Australia-based team’s new rider needs time to nurture and grow before tackling the world’s most famous cycling race
Hong Kong rider Cheung King-lok should not be rushed into competing in the Tour de France and should be given time to nurture his talent, warned the general manager of world tour team Orica GreenEdge.
Speaking at a press conference to announce Cheung’s alliance with the Australia-based team, Shayne Bannan, said riding in the world’s most famous cycling race remained every rider’s dream, but not all can achieve it.
“Every rider in our team asks the same question – can I ride in the Tour de France? It really depends,” said Bannan, who was in Hong Kong on Tuesday to introduce the rider and the professional team.
“The question is how do I get to ride in the Tour de France. I get to ride the Tour de France by getting more race experience, by learning about my body more, by learning more from my coach. That could take two years, three years, four years or never. That’s the reality.
“Riding for the team [in the Tour de France] might be a goal but there are a lot of things that will happen before reaching the goal. That may take a year or that may take five years, we don’t know. Some progress quickly, some not. We’ll watch the progression before making a decision.”
The first Asian men’s rider to join GreenEdge, Cheung has been offered a contract until the end of 2017 and he understands the challenges he will be facing.
“I won’t be able to make it without working really hard. I know it,” said the 25-year-old. “My coach also believes in me as he said I can be the first Hong Kong cyclist to ride in the Tour de France and this remains my biggest target.”
Cheung will join his new teammates at a training camp in a small town in Spain near Barcelona and Bannan said it would be too early to look for results.
“Performance is not what the team would be looking for at this stage,” he said. “The main thing is we provide a good environment where he feels comfortable, he feels he can make progression.
“It is about learning each other, about learning the European racing, about learning his teammates. For next year we will be more on the performance.”
Hong Kong coach Shen Jinkang said he hopes Cheung can inspire more young people to take up cycling.
“Road race forms the base of Hong Kong cycling and now we have our first professional rider in a world tour team. We hope he can inspire more young people in Hong Kong and expand our pool of talent for the future of the sport,” said Shen.