World Wide Cycling
The Marco Polo Cycling Team will travel to Japan at the beginning of September. For some of the riders this is the start of a long Asian Tour, with races in Borneo, Malaysia, Thailand and China.
The Marco Polo Cycling Team has the
following riders in Japan:
Nathan (New Zealand)
Reid, Robin (New Zealand)
Lange, Cory (Canada)
The staff are;
Frans van Slagmaat, Team Manager
Don Wilson, Mechanic
Francis Cerny, Soigneuse
The schedule of the Tour de Hokkaido
September 10 Opening ceremony
September 10 Prologue Asahikawa City Time
Trial 2,3 KM
September 11 Stage 1 Asahikawa City
Nayoro City 181 KM
September 12 Stage 2 Bifuka Town
Wakkanai City 181 KM
September 13 Stage 3 Toyotomi Town
Rumoi City 172 KM
September 14 Stage 4 Takikawa City
Saporro 170 KM
September 15 Stage 5 Criterium Saporro 61
by Remko Kramer
Dahlberg and Tim Wilson had already left the team house that is situated, in an
old monastery near Gennep in the Netherlands. They left for a big Asian Tour of
races starting in Japan, then Indonesia, Malaysia and China.
Team Manager Frans van Slagmaat, Soigneuse Francis Cerny and I, Remko Kramer
rider on the team, only joined for the first race, the Tour de Hokkaido a 6-day
stage race on the northern island of Japan.
flight was pretty long with stopovers of 3-4 hours in London and Osaka. I had a
very good sleep, on the flour between the chairs of the 747 from Japan Airlines.
There was not much room, and every 20 minutes I woke up from the pressure at one
side. But with turning around every time, I made a good 6 hours during the
11-hour flight to Asia.
airport of Osaka, named Kansai, is something special. It is an artificial island
in the sea before Osaka. From the air you can see the strange square shape. The
main building, which is huge, has a special design and looks really cool. And
what a difference. Coming from the London Heathrow airport, were we had to walk
stairs and take an old bus, driving through old rundown hangars and luggage
stores from the one terminal to the other. Now a short walk and there was a
monorail train, stopping close to the luggage band. And in the few minutes this
took, the Japanese were able to have the luggage there already!
for the connecting flight to Chitose airport, Sapporo, we met Cory Lange, who
came from Canada for the whole Asian Tour. His bicycle was left in Canada and at
arrival in Sapporo this was the first worry. Luckily the former secretary from
the Tour de Hokkaido and our friend, Hiromi was there to help us to make
the airport we also met Nathan and Tim again and Robin Reid who came in from New
Zealand. They took us to the hotel, just a five minute walk to the airport hotel
where a nice warm meal was waiting for us, no chopsticks yet.
next day we were picked-up with a few other teams for a bus ride of 200 KM to
Asahikawa. Nathan decided that he needed some training to get his system going
and he took his bicycle and an unreadable tourist map of Hokkaido.
we arrived at the hotel in Asahikawa we built our bicycles together. Now our
multi-functional super-translator Belgium Paul de Coninck, who teaches the
Japanese to eat grilled chicken, took care of business and arranged that Cory's
bicycle would be at the hotel that evening, just on time for the prologue.
ride was a disaster, after 100 meters Francis was run over by a taxi. The wheels
from her bicycle, the spare bicycle, were ruined and she was smashed on the
asphalt and her back and ribs hurt very badly. The Japanese police came in with
two cars and a motorcycle. They measured everything and digital photos were
taken of anything near the accidents location. Luckily the taxi company would
take care of the damage.
Tour de Hokkaido started with a prologue on a bicycle path along the Ishikari
River. The weather had turned into a raining day and in the afternoon the wind
got stronger and stronger. I had the last starting time and rode a bad prologue,
my legs felt like cramping in the cold rain in the all-out-effort of 2,3 KM.
other guys did better, but we had no specialist in this discipline, so no great
Dahlberg at the start of the prologue. (Photographer:
Taiji Nishitani (Jpn-*El.2) 2.51
Jean-Francois Laroche (Can-*El.2) 0.00
Kazuya Okazaki (Jpn-Nip) 0.02
WILSON Tim MARCO POLO 0:03:00 9 sec
DAHLBERG, Nathan MARCO POLO 0:03:00
LANGE Cory MARCO POLO 0:03:01
REID Robin MARCO POLO 0:03:05
KRAMER Remko MARCO POLO 0:03:13
the evening there was an opening ceremony in the Asahikawa Grand Hotel.
the weather had changed again and in the sun we rode to the starting area.
Soigneuse Francis Cerny smiling again after her accident, Cory Lange gets his legs rubbed before the start with some Born warm-up oil. (Photographer: Remko Kramer)
tactics were to cover every break because we expected that a good composition in
a breakaway could get very far. But everybody was so sharp that the many, many
attacks lead nowhere.
the last of three climbs a four men group was gone. In the downhill and flat
section after, we had then in sight. There was another small hill and turning on
this one, I was at the front. A good 500 meters of climbing and a turn, some
Japanese from the Bridgstone-Anchor Team and from Team Shimano sprinted on their
big ring - 14/15. I followed but was going at my max. At the turn, another 1 KM
of climbing showed up and I had to shift to the small ring, exploded and had big
problems to catch on in the peloton. At the top we got dropped with a few guys.
Meanwhile the Italian in the Japanese Nipponhodo team, Claudio Pizzoferrato took
a few hundred meters. But with 20 KM to go, this seemed useless. So many teams
and riders were still trying and going full speed. But Pizzoferrato kept on
going. The peloton came to 100 meters but he kept his advantage and managed to
stay away even with the mass-sprint behind him. What a ride!
Claudio Pizzoferrato (Ita-Nip) 4.04.12
Kazuya Okazaki (Jpn-Nip) 0.10
Shinri Suzuki (Jpn-Shi) s.t.
LANGE Cory MARCO POLO 4:04:22 - 0:00:10
WILSON Tim MARCO POLO 4:04:22 - 0:00:10
REID Robin MARCO POLO 4:04:22 - 0:00:10
DAHLBERG, Nathan MARCO POLO 4:04:22 - 0:00:10
KRAMER Remko MARCO POLO 4:07:33 - 0:03:21
after Stage 1
Claudio Pizzoferrato (Ita-Nip) 4.06.56
Kazuya Okazaki (Jpn-Nip) 0.12
Shinri Suzuki (Jpn-Shi) 0.17
WILSON Tim MARCO POLO 4:07:22 0:00:26
DAHLBERG, Nathan MARCO POLO 4:07:22 0:00:26
LANGE Cory MARCO POLO 4:07:23 0:00:26
REID Robin MARCO POLO 4:07:27 0:00:31
KRAMER Remko MARCO POLO 4:10:46 0:03:50
the finish, lunch-boxes were given out and in the sun we relaxed in the park at
the finish and ate the "western-style" sandwiches. The Asian
lunch-boxes were a lot more interesting with rice and sushi, later we exchanged,
the difference attracts.
Robin Reid and Cory Lange after the first stage. (Photographer: Francis Cerny)
a bus ride we arrived at a lake in the nature, with around it a holiday park and a
camping. We had a wooden house for the whole "family". Mechanic Don
Wilson cleaned and fixed the bicycles at the balcony at the front door.
of the guys went for a hot bath, a specialty in this area of Japan. The others
had a massage and washed their clothing.
Mechanic Don Wilson checking the bikes in front of the wooden house we stayed in. (Photographer: Francis Cerny)
Robin Reid before the start of the 2nd stage. (Photographer: Francis Cerny)
day we would take the biggest climb of the tour. But the beginning was fast as
yesterday and each team tried to attack the leader jersey of Italian
raced well and covered each break. Cory took a good moment and put the hammer
down when he had a nice gap with three others. A few KM further there was a
hot-spot sprint with very valuable bonus seconds. Cory won this and moved
further up in the GC.
Nathan was in a 10 men break, which lasted longer. But the Nipponhodo team from
the Tour leader made a chase, on the flat they could not close the 2-minute gap.
But at the climb they drove tempo and slowly closed the gap. I was riding above
my limit at this tempo and got into problems. Two KM under the top, I got
dropped and in the downhill we grouped with 10 riders. With 100 KM to go this
was serious. We still hoped that the peloton would chill-out at the feed-zone,
but they didn't. So we had to struggle to stay in the time limit of 20 minutes.
Sometimes we were showed the time difference and we seemed to be saving, but we
had to keep riding as hard as we could. Then at 10 KM before the finish, some
commissaries decided that we were out of the time limit. So close to the finish,
we didn't want to give up and with a few guys we kept on going. And still we
made it within the time limit, but since they already told us to stop, we were
out of the race! Shit!
other guys had no problems and only complained about the high speed at the end.
Therefore there was no chance to break away and these guys are no specialists in
the mass sprint.
Taiji Nishitani (Jpn-*El.2)4.19.26
Claudio Pizzoferrato (Ita-Nip) s.t
Jean-Francois Laroche (Can-*El.2)s.t.
LANGE Cory MARCO POLO CAN 4:19:26 - 0:00:00
WILSON Tim MARCO POLO AUS 4:19:26 - 0:00:00
REID Robin MARCO POLO NZL 4:19:26 - 0:00:00
DAHLBERG, Nathan MARCO POLO NZL 4:19:26 - 0:00:00
after stage 2
Claudio Pizzoferrato (Ita-Nip)8.26.14
Kazuya Okazaki (Jpn-Nip)0.19
Jean-Francois Laroche (Can-*El.2)0.21
LANGE Cory MARCO POLO 8:26:46 0:00:31
WILSON Tim MARCO POLO 8:26:48 0:00:34
DAHLBERG, Nathan MARCO POLO 8:26:48 0:00:34
REID Robin MARCO POLO 8:26:53 0:00:39
had to go to the doping control and we had some lunch in the harbour of Wakkanai
at the north side of Hokkaido. In this harbour city, many signs are in Russian,
so close are we to some Russian Islands. Before the coast there is a volcanic
island, one peak, 1700 meters high!
the evening we took a hot bath in the Toyotomi Hotel.
Robin and Tim check the profile of the stage. (Photographer: Francis Cerny)
weather forecast was bad. A typhoon was coming, already passed the south of
Japan with new wind speed records! Visited Korea afterwards, some people were
killed here! And now it came straight to us. Not so powerful anymore, but still
strong enough to blow some bicyclists from the road...
the start it was still quiet but the peloton was not. Attacks from the gun and
in the first KM a group formed. Tim saw the danger and went after them. Cory
covered this attack and got away with some Japanese.
" Tim was going! We also got away from the field and I wanted to move over.
I shouted and luckily Tim heard me, together we made it to the break and with 13
men we came together".
was the break we were looking for every day. The big Japanese teams were happy
with the composition and so were we. Some teams like the Canadian National Team
with a 4 th place on GC tried but didn't get there. So the peloton got quiet and
the break kept going. They took an 8 minutes and the GC was set for the rest of
this race. Now the value of the bonus seconds that Cory took became clear. Place
6 in GC and Tim on place 11 with only 2 seconds from the top ten.
HIROSE, Satoshi NIPPON HODO 4:04:49 -
KANO, Tomoya SHIMANO Racing 4:04:49 0:00:00
TANAKA, Mitsuteru AISAN KOGYO 4:04:49 0:00:00
LANGE Cory MARCO POLO CAN 4:05:24 0:00:35
WILSON Tim MARCO POLO AUS 4:05:24 0:00:35
DAHLBERG, Nathan MARCO POLO NZL 4:13:17 0:08:28
REID Robin MARCO POLO NZL 4:13:17 0:08:28
after stage 3
HIROSE, Satoshi NIPPON HODO 12:31:13 -
KANO, Tomoya SHIMANO Racing 12:31:27 0:00:13
TANAKA, Mitsuteru AISAN KOGYO 12:31:29 0:00:15
LANGE Cory MARCO POLO 12:32:10 0:00:56
WILSON Tim MARCO POLO 12:32:12 0:00:58
DAHLBERG, Nathan MARCO POLO 12:40:05 0:08:51
REID Robin MARCO POLO 12:40:10 0:08:57
typhoon brought in heavy rain at the end of the stage and the riders were wet
and cold at the finish. During the night strong winds were whistling around the
of the typhoon had passed during the night and it was a very quiet day.
was the day of Shinichi Fukushima! He celebrated his birthday yesterday and
decided that he would give himself a present. Early in the stage he got away
with 3 riders. First part of the stage was not so hard, but after a small
mountain range there was an open flat section with strong winds. The peloton got
splintered in the cross-winds here, but Fukushima, who was on his own now, kept
30 K to go two riders bridged up to Fukushima. But with two K to go the chase
group was so close that they gave up, but not Fukushima. He went by himself and
won the stage with 3 seconds...
Team manager Frans van Slagmaat takes the left feedbags, (a phototrick on the front of the car) (Photographer: Remko Kramer)
team worked hard today and made sure Cory and Tim were in the first group. They
were fine, but only in the last 100 metres a small gap in the sprint cost
valuable time. Time is taken from the first rider of the group. And this small
gap was a new timing point and cost 4 seconds and 2 places in GC!
FUKUSHIMA, Shinichi BRIDGSTONE@ANCHOR 4:08:38 -
LAROCHE Jean-Francois CANADA 4:08:41 0:00:03
GRIFFIN Paul IRELAND 4:08:41 0:00:03
WILSON Tim MARCO POLO AUS 4:08:45 0:00:07
LANGE Cory MARCO POLO CAN 4:08:45 0:00:07
REID Robin MARCO POLO NZL 4:08:45 0:00:07
DAHLBERG, Nathan MARCO POLO NZL 4:10:31 0:01:53
after stage 4
HIROSE, Satoshi NIPPON HODO 16:39:54 -
KANO, Tomoya SHIMANO Racing 16:40:12 0:00:17
TANAKA, Mitsuteru AISAN KOGYO 16:40:14 0:00:19
LANGE Cory MARCO POLO 16:40:54 0:00:59
WILSON Tim MARCO POLO 16:40:58 0:01:03
REID Robin MARCO POLO 16:48:50 0:08:55
DAHLBERG, Nathan MARCO POLO 16:50:41 0:10:47
stayed in the Gateau Kingdom Hotel in Sapporo. This is a huge luxury hotel. The
entrance hall reaches 15 floors high and glass elevators go up and down. From
the rooms we had a view in the hall were they had a wedding ceremony every hour.
we received very bad news! The next race on this Asian Tour, the Tour of Borneo
was cancelled. This meant big trouble, what can we do. Most of the team was here
with expensive tickets with many stop-overs to the next tours, Borneo, Malaysia,
Thailand and China. But now there was more then 2 weeks nothing.
contact with the team management back in Europe, we decided to break-up the rest
of the Asian Tour and send everybody hoe after Hokkaido, what a pity.
the last stage of the Tour de Hokkaido was in the Moerenuma Park. This is a
complete new park, designed by sculptor Isamu Noguchi. The entire park forms one
sculpture with several impressive constructions.
The criterium in the Moerenuma Park with sculptures designed by sculptor Isamu Noguchi. (Photographer: Francis Cerny)
was a very fast course and the race was controlled by the Nipponhodo team. Robin
managed to win a bonus second in a hot-sprint, but this was 1 second to less to
get into the prices. Also Cory and Tim tried several times, to get away for
bonus seconds but this was impossible with the tempo of this criterium.
MIZUTANI, Takehiro BRIDGSTONE ANCHOR JPN 1:19:34 -
MIFUNE, Masahiko MIYATA SUBARU JPN 1:19:34 0:00:00
SUZUKI, Shinri SHIMANO Racing JPN 1:19:34 0:00:00
LANGE Cory MARCO POLO CAN 1:19:34 0:00:00
WILSON Tim MARCO POLO AUS 1:19:34 0:00:00
REID Robin MARCO POLO) NZL 1:19:34 0:00:00
DAHLBERG, Nathan MARCO POLO NZL 1:19:34 0:00:00
HIROSE, Satoshi NIPPON HODO 17:59:25 -
KANO, Tomoya SHIMANO Racing 17:59:46 0:00:20
TANAKA, Mitsuteru AISAN KOGYO 17:59:48 0:00:22
LANGE Cory MARCO POLO 18:00:28 0:01:02
WILSON Tim MARCO POLO 18:00:32 0:01:06
REID Robin MARCO POLO 18:08:23 0:08:57
DAHLBERG, Nathan MARCO POLO 18:10:15 0:10:50
NIPPON HODO 54:08:13 -
SHIMANO Racing 54:08:36 0:00:23
Miyata SUBARU 54:09:14 0:01:01
MARCO POLO) 54:09:28 0:01:15
the race there was a great closing ceremony, with music and dance, the awards
ceremony and a dinner with delicious food and some drinks...
video from the race was shown projected on the wall during dinner. And
afterwards we had a few drinks, and
went for some swimming to the pool area next to the hotel.
we would like to thank our translator Paul, Mari from the organisation and the
organising committee for the great event they put up and the nice time we had in
Robin Reid in action in the criterium in Moerenuma Park (Sapporo). (Photographer: Francis Cerny)