Day two of the Genghis Khan 3-day MTB Adventure saw a complete turnaround of the weather and the grassland trails were now bone-dry for the most part, allowing for some very fast racing. As usual, the pace set from the gun was a cracking one and this time it was set by the Mongolians.
To make up for his bad luck on stage 1 due to chain problems, Tuguldur Tuulkhangai made a bold attack early in the race to ride solo, despite the hard chasing efforts of Triace Duo Feng Kuanjie and Wang Lei. Tuulkhangai rode like a man possessed to finish at the Mongolian Yurt City with over five minutes on his nearest rival.
Although it was the shortest stage at 43km, it was still quite a brutal stage when coupled with the prevailing high winds and numerous steep climbs to contend with. Eric Felbabel, from Chiru-WTB’s newly formed Asia team, expected to reel back the solo Mongolian within 10kms but was very surprised to see him continue to extend the advantage especially when there was three hard chasers including himself working together to bring him back.
2011 National Mongolian road champion, Altansuckh was able to match the pace of Feng Kuanjie and Eric Felbabel to retain his yellow jersey for another day. The founder of Chiru bikes, Pierre-Arnaud Le Magnan, riding for CHIRU-WTB finished a highly respectable sixth place ahead of Ed Cork (Specialized). Daniel Carruthers, also riding for CHIRU-WTB had an off day finishing well down the field in 18th place.
Bikedan’s personal perspective
Stage one’s epic race (suffer score of 195 on Strava!) left me quite tired and this coupled with eating spicy hotpots for race recovery food did not do much to help. I was so tired on the morning of stage two that I went back to sleep after having breakfast consisting of a couple of boiled eggs, several bananas and steamed buns. I was not feeling right at all and I could not get enough sleep to fully recover, on top of this I was not feeling very hungry as my stomach also felt a little queasy. I skipped lunch and had a USANA Nutrimeal shake instead along with another banana.
For the complete Strava file – click here
I almost missed the start as I was trying to find Henry from WTB to mind my phone and hearing aids. I often don’t race without hearing aids… As soon as I rolled in at the back of the field, the gun want off and the pack was off like a frenzied pack of rabid dogs chasing a juicy rabbit. It was not a comfortable start for me but it was also into a head wind, so I was eventually able to make it up to near the front on the road section. There were several attacks by other riders before Tuulkhangai attacked hard on the steep road section and no one followed. With about 700m remaining till the beginning of the off-road, Triace attacked hard and I followed this move and found myself working quite hard. I checked behind me and saw Ed Cork coming up so I slowed up to allow him to go back and then jumped into his draft. Going into the off-road, it was myself, Ed Cork and Eric Felbabel together. However, Felbabel found even more power to surge across to the chase group that was forming in pursuit of the solo Mongolian; thus leaving us in his wake.
Pierre and Sun Chengyi were the next couple of riders to come up to Ed and myself. I rode with them for a few minutes and we had to get over the steep climb (the same one that featured at the beginning of stage 1), I dug deep to maintain contact going over this climb and after finishing the descent into the grassland valley, I found myself 50m off the back. I tried my hardest to bridge the gap but I just did not have the same power and found myself drifting further and further back. Eventually, another group of 10 riders caught up with me and I was quite blown. I stayed with this group for along time, making it over the climbs but I popped on a rough grassy downhill of all places! I was trying to recover from the previous climb that I was a little too relaxed on the descent. Plus I knew I was rapidly deteriorating, the dreaded ‘BONK” was setting in. I can’t remember when was the last time I bonked in a race. I’ve had cramp problems to contend with but not bonking (or “hit the wall”) for along time.
You know the feeling, when you have hit the wall, everything becomes slow and your body is in shut down mode. Basically you do your best to crawl to the finish. It was only a 43km stage, but it seemed like an eternity to finish it. After the last feed-zone, I was able to muster a little more energy to finish on a stronger note even surprising myself to out-sprint a rider that caught me with 300m remaining!
I was so crook after finishing that I collapsed on the grass for more than 30minutes – I think I even fell asleep too. I ate watermelon, snickers, bananas and drank copious amounts of water. When I eventually made a move to get up, both my legs seized up with cramp! Had to lay down for a few more minutes and slowly get up. I had to muster enough energy to do some photo shooting with Kirk Kenny for WTB. We spent a couple of hours doing various photo shoots together with Pierre and Eric.
Since my bag of clothes etc was with someone and was not yet at the Yurt City, I had to stay in my sweaty bike clothes for hours. This created nice red indentations on my legs from the shorts leg grippers! There was a great traditional Mongolian banquet party and we all feasted on barbequed lamb that was brought in whole and chopped up for us. I made sure to eat plenty of rice and steamed buns to help with my recovery. We all enjoyed a wonderful cultural performance and a bonfire before getting on the bus to get back to the hotel. There was an option to stay at the Yurt City, which would have been nice. I did it last time I was here in 2010 but since the Stage 3 start was in the city, it made more sense to stay back in town.
Stay tuned for the Stage 3 account. Scroll down for more photos. All Photos from Kirk Kenny Photography
Unofficial results – MTB Stage 2 – 43km – Men
1. Tuguldur Tuulkhangai (MGL)
2. Altanzul Altansuckh (MGL)
3. Feng Kuan Jie (CHN)
4. Eric Felbabel (FRA)
5. Sun Chengyi (CHN)
6. Pierre-Arnaud Le Magnan (FRA)
7. Edward Cork (GBR)
8. Jamsran Ulziibator (MGL)
9. Yin Bo (CHN)
10.Wang Li Dong (CHN)
11. Mark Thirlwall (AUS)
12. Bertrand Jouve (FRA)
13. Jim Knudsen (DEN)
14. Franz Jammernegg (AUT)
18. Daniel Carruthers (NZL)