We’ll come back stronger in the Cyclothon next year, vow Hong Kong riders

The host riders all finish a lap behind a world-class field in Sunday’s 103km race but promise to do better in 2018 with better preparation

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 October, 2017, 8:41pm
UPDATED : Monday, 09 October, 2017, 2:27pm

Hong Kong riders have promised to come back stronger after finishing one lap behind a world-class field in the UCI 1.1 class criterium race during Sunday’s Cyclothon.

None of the six Hong Kong riders could manage to clock an official finishing time in the 20-lap race because they finished too far back in the 103km Hong Kong Challenge raced along Tsim Sha Tsui and Hung Hom.

In the end, Leung Ka-yu was the highest placed finish but he was still one lap behind the leaders in 31st position, while top local rider Leung Chun-wing could only place 55th in the 100-rider field.

Hong Kong riders were competing against world-class teams such as Orica-Scott and UAE Team Emirates and the gulf in class was evident in the race won by Matej Mohoric of Slovenia, who rides for team Emirates.

The former world junior road race champion successfully defended his Hong Kong title in a time of two hours 35.57 seconds. He was followed by Robbie Hucker of IsoWhey Sports of Australia.

Japan’s Yukiya Arashiro, who rides for world tour team Bahrain – Merida, came third. Arashiro is the first rider of his country to complete the Tour de France in 2009.

Hong Kong coach Shen Jinkang said his team should do better next year as the race will become part of the Asian Tour event that acts as a qualifier towards the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

“The event attracted many world-class riders with precious UCI ranking points, which counts towards Tokyo Olympic qualifications. More importantly this race is a good way to promote cycling in Hong Kong and has the support of the home fans,” said Shen.

“We did not have much time to prepare for this event this year because it clashed with the China National Games and the Asian Indoor Games, but we will make this race one of our primary targets for next year.”

Leung Chun-wing, who won gold medals at both the National Games and the Asian Indoor Games, was confident of an improved result in 2018 provided that he is better prepared.

Leung was among the leading group of 23 riders until he faded during the last seven laps. He was forced to retire with two laps to go as he pulled out, unable to keep up with the searing pace.

“We are adjusting our form after two major games and had to cut short our holidays to resume preparation for this race, butl I was able to stick with the leading group for more than half the race,” he said. “If we can spend more time on preparation, I am sure we can do better.

“This is a very technical race filled with U-turns and bends and not only do you need to be physically strong, you must have great technique as well.

“We enjoyed the race very much, especially as this is our home race with strong support from fans. We look forward to coming back next year hopefully stronger.”

Leung and his teammates left Hong Kong on Sunday for the Tour of Taihu in China before they take part in the five-leg track World Cup series.