World Wide Cycling
of Thailand and Tour de Okinawa (Japan)
by Rob Conijn
Marco Polo team is doing a lot of races at the end of the European season. So
for the strong and on -going racers this is a great opportunity to do nice and
hard races all over the world in a nice atmosphere. During October and
November Marco Polo Cycling was present and successful in the following races:
Tour du Faso (Africa) - 2 stage win, and green jersey, Tour of Malaysia - 1
stage win, Tour of Beijing (China) - 3 stage win and overall winner GC, Tour of
Thailand - 3 stage win and Tour de Okinawa (Japan).
you will read the report of the Tour of Thailand and Tour of Okinawa. It was a
nice trip many ups and some downs At the beginning it was not sure if The Marco
Polo team could go to Thailand because of several warnings by governments.
Possibly you can remember the horribly attack on Bali, this resulted in negative
travel advises by several governments. However the Dutch one was not negative so
Marco Polo Cycling decided to go.
selected team had the following line-up:
Nederlof and Rob Conijn from the Netherlands
Kermer from Germany
Madsen from Denmark
Team Manager Anno Pedersen
Lex Nederlof on the way to winning a stage in the Tour of Thailand, on the frontpage of a Thai newspaper, behind him in the yellow leader jersey, Matnur from Indonesia. Matnur has signed a contract for the Marco Polo Cycling Team, trade team III for the 2003 season.
Polo decided to race the Tour of Thailand to have a good preparation for Tour de
Okinawa, this is a hard 200 km continually hilly race on a tropical island of
Japan. If riders come direct from the cold Europe in November this will be
mission impossible. Therefore the proposal was made to race the Tour of Thailand
before Okinawa, none of the riders had problems with that of course...
appeared that Tour of Thailand is a very nice UCI 2.6 race, good organized, and
very relaxed, a combination you don't see often. Racing in nice warm weather,
every day about 170/ 180 km racing is the best way to get your form within one
week. Starting at 7 am means that you are ready with racing early, so you can
have look around later on the day.
in the race was also starting in a group of about 170 riders (this is not so
special) however also included are the Juniors, Ladies and Masters. For the flat
stages, the advantage of this is that the young Juniors, they feel as released
in the beginning of the race, are making good speed and make life a bit easier
for the Elite racers. The Juniors, Ladies and Masters finish about 100 km so
then the real attacking race starts for Elite starts.
The team in Thailand, from left to right, Kay Kermer (Germany), Rob Conijn (Netherlands), Rasmus Madsen (Denmark) and Lex Nederlof (Netherlands). (Photographer:(Anno Pedersen)
by Rasmus Madsen
by Kay Kermer
Bar Tour of Thailand 2002 Phuket-Bangkok 888km
November 2, criterium in Phuket-City:
30 laps per 2.2km, 30 degree temperature and very very hot and dry.
was a really fast and hard race by points each three laps. Our team tactics was
clear, save energy for next stages and try for good result, if we can. I felt
good that's why I won the first 4 sprints with the help of strong riders Rasmus
and Lex. After the middle of the race a group of 16 riders was gone (all riders
of TT3 Giant, Ian Wilkinson sprinter from England and Rasmus, Lex and I), in
preparation of the 8th sprint Rasmus crashed in a corner, his first crash, but
he was o.k.. On the end I won this criterium with 33 points, 2nd with 19 points
was Ian Wilkinson and 3rd with 12 points was Sergey Derevyanov (Giant),
Lex, 11th Rasmus, 33th Rob.
" I had been training hard the last 2 month
before coming to Thailand and to my own satisfaction I had a very good feeling
when we started racing. I'm definitely no sprinter, and together with Rob and
Lex, I worked to bring Kay to a good position before the point-sprints, and Kay
didn't led down the team and won the stage without to much effort. So it was a
successfully first stage for the team but unfortunately not for me personally.
Half past the race I had a crash but apparently I got of with the usual
abrasions. The corners were very
slippery as a consequence of sand and quite a few riders crashed during the
Kay Kermer winner of the "prologue" points race of the Tour of Thailand. (Photographer: Anno Pedersen)
Report by Kay Kermer:
3, 1st stage and bad day for our team, Phuket-Surat Thani,
173km, it was rainy, but not cold. One hill and the rest of this stage was flat with really bad roads (slippery and damaged). After the crash I was shocked and unable to race hart and with out to think about the picture of crash. The giant attack and attack again and play jojo with us (first group: all giant, Lex, Ian, 2 Thai - geys). After this stage was the result of the general classification of time clear, 3 giant (they had the most team riders!!) in front and strong enough to attack again. (result:1st Damir Iratov, 2nd Soren Peterson, 3rd Sergey Derevyanov, 4th I, 12th Lex, 39th Rob)
Lex Nedelof in the newspaper in Thailand.
Report by Kay Kermer:
4, 2nd stage Surat Thani-Chumphon, 176km,
again and warm. We slept every time in nice hotels and the food was really good,
but some times a little bit to spicy.
most of the work in front of the big bunch makes the Giants. Many attacks were
broken in the hard front wind and the strong work of the Giants. On the end it
was a big sprint and Matnur from Indonesia won the sprint, he was smart enough
to wait in the wind shade and passed all at the finish. Rob and Lex
rode the last 10km faster to prepare a good position for my sprint, but I
was to nervous and started to early. result: 1st Matnur, 2nd Ian Wilkinson, 3rd
Ching Wong Ngai (Honkong), 21st I, 41th Lex, 50th Rob.
5, 3rd stage Chumphon-Prachuap Khiri Khan, 174km,
and warm nice weather. Every day the same picture, we attack and try and the
giants catch us and work in front of the bunch. It was really hard to have no
team-manager, since Anno left to help Rasmus after his crash. But luckily every
rider and the manager of Hong Kong helped us when we needed water and some bars
during the race, although it was forbidden to help other riders (every body knew
the disaster with Rasmus). 10km to go Lex attacked again and only Matnur
followed him, it was the right attack at the right time (old mans
experience!!!). Lex won this race. result: 2nd Matnur, 3rd Ian Wilkinson, 4th I,
Lex Nederlof at the podium after winning the 3rd stage of the Tour of Thailand. (Photographer: Kay Kermer)
6, 4th stage Prachuap Khiri Khan-Phetchaburi, 153km,
and windy. 4km to go Paul Redenbach (Giant), Soren Peterson (Giant) and I were
gone and 5 seconds in front. After an attack of Soren (he didn't want to sprint)
all 3 guys rode alone in the wind, like Belgium-feeling. 1km to go I catch
Soren, attack and win.
was not enthusiastic about this finish. But we, the riders of Marco Polo Cycling
team were the most successfull team
in this tour with 3 stage wins.
2nd Soren Peterson, 3rd Ching Wong Ngai, 16th Lex, 35th Rob.
7 5th stage Phetchaburi-Bangkok, 149km,
and stormy. This was a hard race from the starting line to the finish line. Why,
because it was a fight between the Giant-riders, they wanted to win a stage
again, but nobody wanted to lose his placing in GC. It was really funny for us
to look at this game. It was not my day because I had 2 wheel damages and needed
too much energy to come back to the group. Lex was fit and attacked with the
Giants. All riders came in little groups or alone to Bangkok.
the finish it was hectic for the official award, I didn't know which was the
result of the end, but this sure: 1st Soren Peterson, 2nd Damir, 3rd Sergey.
This was also the general classification by time, maybe 4th Ian Wilkinson, 5th
Lex, 6th I.
in all it was a great experience with a good organization, friendly people and a
A ceremonie with winners from all categories and officials of the Tour of Thailand 2002. (Photographer: Kay Kermer)
next day the Marco Polo Cycling Team already left for Japan to be on time for
the Tour de Okinawa.
Tour de Okinawa 2002:
by Kay Kermer:
Tour de Okinawa 2002:
was only a 5 hour flight to Okinawa and not much of a jet-lag. Also the weather
was about the same as in Thailand, warm and tropical.
welcome in Japan was very friendly and exactly planned on time. Okinawa is a
beautiful tropical island, clear blue water, coral riffs, white sand beaches and
met with the nice Dutch women, Arenda Grimberg and Debby Mansveld, they had
already arrived in Japan. They also participated in the Tour de Okinawa. Too bad
that they didn't race in our race like in Thailand, then they should race 200 KM
instead of 50. We stayed in a 4 star hotel and enjoyed the luxury.
Tour de Okinawa is a great event with cycling in all different categories, like
family tours and a 350 KM! tour around the island.
10, 200km, 1.5 UCI, great organization, a big high light for everybody.
know this race from the last year and I didn't want to make the same mistake
like last year, that is why the 3 Marco Polo riders were riding in front and
looked what the others did, like the Canadians, USA-boys, Irish guys and the
strong Japanese pro's.
many attacks and 78km after the 1st climb, I was in a group of 5, riders from:
Canada, Shimano-racing and Nippon Hodo TT3, 3min in front. At the second climb
20 riders caught us and the race and hunting was open.
to go, I attack and only Takumi Beppu (Nippon Hodo) and the ex-champion of Japan
could follow me. But 100km in a group was a little bit too much on the next
climbs, so I saw stars and didn't know where I was. Team Manager Anno spoke
German with me, I am German but I didn't understand him, I was smashed.
after rider after rider passed me and I had hallucinations about the finish
line. The result was that Paul Redenbach (Giant), remember on the 4th stage in
Thailand, won this race, 2nd was Takumi Beppu (Nippon Hodo), 3rd ex-champion of
Japan, 18th Lex, 21th I. It is a hard race and everything has to be right to win
this. I think this is one of the nicest races ever.
the race there was a great closing ceremony with food and drinks with all
participants. We enjoyed the Okinawa brew Kirin beer and sushi dish together
with Japanese culture on the podium, with drums and dancing dragons. Later we
went with the opponents in the race from the USA, Canada and Ireland to Karaoke
bars. Here we noticed that we have more talent on the bicycle then on stage.
finished this great adventure on the beach, enjoyed the hot sun and the warm
thanks to Anno, he made a big job in this adventure tour, beyond his energy!!!!!
would also like to thank the race organisers of these two great cycling events!