Need for speed: Cheung King-lok is unimpressed by winning time at Hong Kong Cycling Championships
The heir apparent to legendary rider, Wong Kam-po, says he still has a long road ahead before he can match the world’s best riders despite showing his gulf in class against local opposition
Cheung King-lok easily won the 15km men’s individual time trial at the Hong Kong Cycling Championships in Tai Po on Saturday, but the local ace admitted his winning time wouldn’t have made the slightest dent against the world’s best riders.
The 25-year-old, who joined the professional ranks with world tour team Greenedge of Australia in March, improved his time over the course by 40 seconds since turning professional three months ago, finishing the race in 20 minutes and 13.899 seconds. Yeung Ying-hon finished almost 88 seconds adrift in second place in 21:41.509.
Cheung’s winning time would have delighted most riders, but the Hong Kong ace remained unimpressed, saying he still has a long way to go if he is to one day challenge the top professionals.
“My time is more than 40 seconds faster than my record at last year’s event on the same course, but it’s not great,” said Cheung, who returned to Hong Kong this week after representing Greenedge in the Tour of Slovenia, which is part of the Europe Tour.
“I am a better rider than I was three months ago, but the gulf between myself and the top riders in the world is too big at the moment and it is difficult to say when I will be racing on par with them.
“It seems there is always a higher mountain to climb after you conquer the first one and giving it your all. In Asia, I would be at the front [of races], but this is hardly the case in Europe. My job is pretty tough.”
Considered the heir apparent to Hong Kong’s greatest cyclist, Wong Kam-po, Cheung is the reigning double Asian time trial and road race champion.
And the talented rider showed his promise last week by finishing 64th overall at the Tour of Slovenia, a 2.1 class event, where his best result in one of the stages was 21st out of 120 riders.
Hong Kong coach Shen Jinkang said Cheung hoped to join his teammates at next month’s Tour of Poland, a world tour level event, but he probably had not made the grade after his Slovenia performance.
“I am likely to be a reserve rider for the Tour of Poland. In this case, I would likely stay in Hong Kong and make my final preparations for the Rio Olympics,” he said. “Coach Shen has told me I may also take part in the Tour of Qinghai Lake in China next month, but it is not decided yet.”
The Tour of Qinghai Lake, from July 17-30, is one of the few HC (hors catégorie) class events in Asia, which includes extremely difficult hill climbs in the highest regions of Asia.
Second place finisher Yeung believes his former teammate is making steady progress since his European excursion.
“He was already very fast before going to Europe and he seems faster now,” said Yeung, who has recently joined professional team Hengxiang of China. “He should treasure the opportunity of racing the best riders in the world in Europe and make even more progress.”
In the women’s event, also raced over 15 kilometres, Yang Qianyu of the Hong Kong team came first in 24:10.305 while second place went to teammate Leung Po-yee, who finished 13 seconds behind.