Mongolians take stranglehold on day one of the Genghis Khan MTB stage race
All of the top 10, except for China’s Hu Hao, hailed from Mongolia and they’ve signaled their intentions loud and clear: they wish to race aggressively from day one and it is a perfect dial up preparation race for those who are taking to the start-line at the formidable Mongolia Bike Challenge in less than two months. Such was the hot pace and quality of the field, only two mainland Chinese riders managed to finish in the top 20. Hu Hao, China’s current best and most promising amateur mountain bike rider finished 4th in a small group three riders but still eight minutes adrift of the overall winner, Altansukh Altanzul, who was just too strong and powered away to a comfortable win ahead of Chiru-WTB rider and compatriot Tuguldur Tuulkhangal. Tuguldur and Altanzul were riding together for much of the stage held under perfect sunny cloudless weather conditions. In the end, Tuguldur could not sustain the pace after breaking his handle-bars in a mid-stage tumble together with Altanzul! He rolled in with a 1hr 57 time, almost 2minutes slower than the winner.
Almost 200 riders started the long course of 65km that was raced over the same course as the previous year, only this time the weather conditions were perfect and not muddy from the 2012 heavy downpour. The WTB sponsored teams had a very good presence in the field, six Team Chiru-WTB riders and five Team WTB riders taking to the start-line. Five of the CHIRU-WTB riders finished in the top 15 with Tuguldur the best of their finishers and two WTB team riders, Jari Kolehmainen and Daniel Carruthers were in the top 20.
For a detailed official race report from the organizers, visit here.
This Grassland’s MTB adventure, in its 7th year, has morphed into one of China’s best amateur races and the only multi-stage MTB event on offer in China at this present time. The increase in the popularity of this event is evident with almost 300 mountain bikers taking part in both the long and short courses. The official race website talks about this increase in popularity and improvement in the level of the competition in recent years. The report can be read here. It is truly an international event with many foreigners coming in from all parts of the globe to race in the beautiful grasslands of Inner Mongolia and enjoy some world class hot pot cuisine. If you are new to mountain biking and also new to endurance biking, this is a perfect introduction event to give you a good taste for the style of mountain biking. If you have heard of the epic Mongolia Bike Challenge, a grueling 850km seven-day stage race set in the true remote Mongolian outback, then this Inner Mongolia event can be considered the sister event, albeit a much softer offering and something everyone can participate in. If you have your sights on competing in the Mongolia Bike Challenge at some point, then this Grasslands adventure is a perfect precursor.
It is no question, after the fireworks of stage one, that the Mongolians will be tough to beat. But can they sustain the same speeds they displayed in the opening half of stage one in stage two? Will the edge have been taken off? The Mongolians are known to come out fast’n’furious with no-holds barred style of racing, but their ability to maintain that style over multiple days is still to be desired. This was evident at the 2012 Mongolia Bike Challenge where both Tuguldur and Altanzul seized the early lead in one of the MBC stages, however the distances are much greater and require stamina to maintain the same speeds. They were unable to hold the pace and were caught by the chase pack that consisted of world-class riders like Cory Wallace (Canada). It will be interesting to see how far they have improved over the last year. The Mongolians are definitely preparing for the MBC on their own turf and this Inner Mongolia race is a perfect event for them to signal to the rest of the world that they will be a force to be reckoned with at the 2013 MBC that will be featuring the largest professional field ever assembled in Mongolia.
Stage two is a short, but fast 44.5km to the Mongolian Yurt camp where a large feast on roast lamb and traditional party will be held for all the riders. Because of the short nature of the stage, it is my prediction that the Mongolians will again shine with their fast aggressive nature of riding from the gun. But do not discount a strong challenge from Specialized China’s Hu Hao and Taiwan’s Liu Shuming from Team Enervit. Team CHIRU-WTB riders Ed Cluer and Fraser Young could also be within the mix to be fighting for the top positions at the end of stage two.
See below for the top 40 results. Stay tuned for the updates!