Fatigued HK riders relish rare world-class test on home ground in Cyclothon criterium
Led by Leung Chun-wing, the local cyclists face top opposition in the UCI 1.1 race including Mathew Hayman of Australia’s Orica Scott teams
Leading Hong Kong cyclists, headed by multi National Games and Asian Indoor Games gold medallist Leung Chun-wing, will be battling fatigue when they take on some of the world’s best in the 103-kilometre UCI 1.1 criterium race in Tsim Sha Tsui on Sunday.
The squad barely have had time to rest after the Asian Indoor Games in Ashgabat.
“We have cut short our holidays after the Asian Indoor Games to prepare for the home event,” said Leung, the omnium champion at the 2017 National Games in Tianjin and in Ashgabat.
“We treasure the opportunity as we have never raced in a 1.1 class event in Hong Kong which means it will be contested by some of the star riders that we can only see in television.
“But we have to put up a strong race and cannot let the home fans down. Although I have raced in the highest HC class in other parts of Asia, the atmosphere is definitely not the same.”
It will be the first time Hong Kong stages a level one, single-day Asian Tour event featuring world tour teams Orica-Scott, of Australia, and UAE Team Emirates, professional continental team Delko Marseille Provence and continental teams such as Aisan Racing, of Japan, Bike Channel Canyon, of Great Britain, H&R Block, of Canada, and Hainan Jilun, of China.
The criterium is part of the annual Sai Hung Kai Properties Hong Kong Cyclothon,
Orica-Scott boast a line-up of Mathew Hayman, Luke Durbridge, Michael Hepburn, Luka Mezgec, Sam Bewley and Mitchell Docker.
Hayman, champion of the Paris-Roubaix 2016, said the Hong Kong team would be one of the challengers in the 20-lap race.
“We don’t race a lot against riders from these teams but we still have to make sure we don’t underestimate anybody, especially any team racing at home. They are going to be highly motivated,” said Hayman.
“We will have a team meeting before putting up a game plan. We heard some riders broke away in last year’s race but we know it’s difficult. We’ll see.”
Despite a relatively short distance for a professional race, Leung believes a small group of riders will try to break away for a group sprint finish.
“We are racing in the city with many turns and bends along the route but riders with good technique can overcome the challenges and break away,” he said.
The other members of the Hong Kong team are Burr Ho, Mow Ching-yin, Ko Siu-wai, Leung Ka-yu and Choy Hiu-fung.
There will be nine races in the cyclothon. Retired Hong Kong riders Wong Kam-po and Wong Wan-yiu and former triathlete Daniel Lee Chi-wo will take part in the 50-kilometre race, which goes through the Tsing Ma Bridge, Ting Kau Bridge before finishing in Tsim Sha Tsui.