World Wide Cycling
The Tour de China 2004 will start soon. We hope to have good results since we are working on cooperation with several partners in China for the future of the Marco Polo Cycling Team.
The Marco Polo Cycling Team has the following line-up:
Tour de China
information : The Tour de China website: http://www.tour-de-china.com
by Remko Kramer
left the Netherlands with team manager Rob Conijn, soigneuse and photographer
Francis Cerny and riders, Neequaye Dsane and myself, Remko Kramer. The rest of
the Marco Polo Cycling Team came from other parts of the world.
Nathan Dahllberg, fresh from his win in the Tour d'Indonesia, joined us as well. Nathan served as a part time D.S. and part time Team Captain in Europe. On his way home to New Zealand he made a stop-over in Indonesia. Here we had some other team riders and guest riders joining together to participate in the Tour d'Indonesia. With Nathan's first place finish on G.C. in the tour Of Indonesia, we decided to register him with the team again to be strong in the Tour de China. Other riders that joined the team were Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh (Oggi), coming from cold Mongolia, training on the rollers past month because of the snow. Then Chi Yin Leung (Kenji) came over from Hong Kong and our team captain Michael Carter came from the USA.
welcome board at the Beijing airport. (Photo: Francis
Cerny, Nikon camera)
the Beijing airport the travel agent from the race welcomed us. Oggi was already
there and with some of his great stories from Mongolia, the time passed quickly
until the arrival of the Polish team.
bus ride through Beijing showed the incredible development that the city had in
past years. It changes so fast that it is almost unreal to see the modern
buildings, streets filled with modern cars and the Beijing people wearing the
the way to Changping, just north of the city, those coming from Europe fell
asleep once in a while. But to kill the jetlag quickly, it is the best to take
the time rhythm as soon as possible - so stay awake and build up the bicycle for
a good ride.
We already can fill our bottles with Nestle water. Team manager and commercial director of the Marco Polo Cycling Team, Rob Conijn, has a meeting with a representative from Nestle water to discuss sponsoring for next season. And Nestle made sure we had water waiting for us at arrival.
Kramer with behind him the temple on the island of the Changping water
reservoir. (Photo: Francis Cerny, Nikon camera)
area of Changping is nice, here the mountains start to rise and if you go
further up in the mountains, there are tourist sites to the Great Wall. The
longest stage of the Tour de China 2004 will also go into these mountains.
first stage is a short time trial of 6,5 KM, but this will be long enough for
the specialists to make some difference. We hope that Michael will have the legs
for a good time, so that he can later be dangerous in the mountains, his
terrain. However there is one problem. His frame was damaged in the plane and
there is a crack in the rear stay. We mark the crack and hope it will hold...
Training in the hills near Changping, and around the Chanping water reservoir. Neequaye Dsane, Chi Yin Leung (Kenji) and Michael Carter. (Photo: Remko Kramer, Nikon camera)
29 Stage 1 6,4 KM Time Trial Changping centre
is early in the morning and still very cold. The climate in this season is like
Europe. The wide roads are already closed for traffic and more and more people
come to watch what is going to happen.
Dsane, is nervous. He races his first UCI race! This guy had an incredible
season. Last winter he hooked up with the Marco Polo Cycling Club, because he
wanted to start racing. Neequaye has an African (Ghana) father and Dutch mother,
but lived most of his life in the Netherlands. His first races were a shock for
him. Starting immediately in the Elite category, he could not keep up with the
high speed and the fast turns of Elite races. He didn't loose his motivation
though and kept training hard. Halfway through the season he started to finish
some races and at the end of the European season he even finished a few top
tens! We decided to reward his progression with the registration in the Marco
Polo Cycling trade team and give him a chance in the Tour de China.
this is his first UCI race and his first time trial race and what happens... he
has to start as the very first rider. So you may understand why he is nervous.
commisaire at the start even makes it worse. Neequaye is asked to make a test
start at the podium, they want to check some things out. When he does this test,
some other commisaires think this is for real and they confuse him when they
want him to continue. Anyway, Neequaye luckily stops and returns for his real
During the Warming-up I felt what is possible, and going about 45 kmph is about the limit I can keep steady for longer then a few hundred metres. But with the body in racing mood and the concentration at the start podium I easily go up to 50 kmph the first few hundred metres. I know this is above my ability and I hold back and keep going 48. This goes well for the first half of the race. But after the turning point I know again I am not a time trial specialist. My legs get heavy and my speed goes down. But after the finish I can only be satisfied, I went as fast as I could.
Ulzii-Orshikh (Oggi) at the start podium for the time trial. (Photo:
Francis Cerny, Nikon camera)
puts down a good time. He even is 3rd for a while, but some specialist still to
come. The Chinese Luo Jianshi wins the stage and will wear the yellow jersey in
1st Stage 6,4 KM Time Trial
Luo Jianshi (PLA - China) 08:19.24
2 Shinichi Fukushima (JPN) 08:25.06
Song Shuhai (Guandong - China) 08:26.82
Michael Carter (Marco Polo Cycling Team) 08:32.74
Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh (Marco Polo Cycling Team) 08:40.21
Japan National Team 25:25.38
PLA - China 25:26.16
Gunadong - China 25:32.49
Marco Polo Cycling Team 26:06.20
the time trial, Rob, meets with Todd McKean from Trek bicycles. After earlier
correspondence about support for the team, we meet Todd again here at the race.
When he hears about the crack in Michael's frame, he makes a phone call. And can
you believe that one hour later in the hotel he comes over to us with a complete
brand-new Trek bicycle, fitted to Michael's sizes and position. He only needs to
turn the handlebars up a bit and it feels like the bicycle is made for him.
Unbelievable, in the Tour de China, in one hour a complete new bicycle ready to
race! Thanks Todd, that was a great job!
Team manager rob Conijn, Todd McKean from Trek and Michael Carter with the bicycle that was arranged within one hour! (Photo: Francis Cerny, Nikon camera)
29 Stage 2 104 KM Circuit
After a decent lunch, we relax some for the afternoon stage. The race takes us to a large circuit where we do 3 laps and then return to the centre of Changping to finish.
Marco Polo Cycling Team at the start of the 2nd stage. Neequaye Dsane, Remko
Kramer and Chi Yin Leung (Kenji). (Photo: Francis Cerny,
the stage is so short, there is no moment of rest. Attack after attack and
nobody hesitates to chase. In some of the breaks Oggi takes over and he puts in
so much power and speed! Amazing how strong the guy is, and more amazing how he
kept his form this well. With snow up and extreme cold, most of his training he
did in Mongolia was on the rollers. (The other day, Marco Polo mechanic Wilco
Geerts told me about some years ago, when Oggi was staying at his place. One day
he comes home from work and hears a strange noise. Walking to his kitchen he
sees water coming from under the kitchen door. There he finds Oggi going flat
out at the rollers. He already did 3 hours and wants to do one more...)
race kept going fast. Because it was so short nobody held back and when the one
break was caught back the next went. The average speed of the stage was over 47
kmph. Therefore it was even a more impressive attack from Shinichi Fukushima to
get away with about 5 km to go. He took 100 metres on the superfast peloton that
was preparing for a mass sprint. But Fukushima just kept going and with 2 km to
go he was still up there. Then Nathan and Michael had a plan, they came passing
the peloton like a rocket and tried to jump over to Fukushima. But unluckily
there was a tricky corner and they took no risk and the peloton caught them
again. Fukushima was still up the road and with just 500 metres to go, the
sprinting peloton rolled him in. The Chinese Wang Fei won the stage before
Polish Thomas Lesniak. No Marco Polo rider in the top ten.
for a good sleep for the day to come with 200 km...
1 Wang Fei (LIA - China) 1:49:05
Tomasz Lesniak (DSL - Poland) 1:49:05
Liu Yan (Guandong - China) 1:49:05
Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh (Marco Polo Cycling Team) 1:49:05
Chiyin Leung (Marco Polo Cycling Team) 1:49:05
Classification after Stage 2
Luo Jianshi (PLA - China) 1:57:24.24
2 Shinichi Fukushima (JPN) 1:57:29.06
3 Koji Fukushima (JPN) 1:57:29.07
71 Michael CARTER (MPC) 1:57:37.74
72 Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh (MPC) 1:57:45.21
26 74 Nathan Dahlberg (MPC) 1:57:58.25
30 76 Remko Kramer (MPC) 1:58:00.20
33 75 Neeqyae Dsane (MPC) 1:58:07.32
50 73 Chi Yin Leung (MPC) 1:58:26.32
Classification after stage 2
Japan National Team
PLA - China
Gunadong - China
5 Marco Polo Cycling Team
30 Stage 3 - 203 KM Chanping water reservoir and surrounding mountains
was really cold at the start and we made sure to wear enough clothing and warm
the legs with special warming-up and protect cream from Born. The race went to
the Changping water reservoir where we did 10 laps of 12 km around a lake. In
the lake was a small island with a beautiful Chinese temple. The lake is
surrounded with mountains where some older pieces of the Chinese Great Wall can
be found. The course is going up and down all the time, which will make it a
tough ride even before we reach the real mountains in the big loop.
have a guest in the team car today. It is Sam, representative from Craft
underwear. Craft will supply the team next year with underwear and we invited
Sam to experience a cycling race from inside. And could he choose a better day
then today? This day had almost everything that makes cycling such a great
Our strategy is to have some of our guys in a break so that other teams need to worry and chase. Michael and also Oggi are the guys that will wait and hope to be strong enough to destroy the opponents in the mountains.
The early break in stage 3 of the Tour de China at the dam of the Changping water reservoir. (Photo: Francis Cerny, Nikon camera)
first part of the plan goes all right, although only one rider in the 14 men
break is not too much. But it is Nathan that is up there and we have seen him do
amazing things in long hard stages like this, but now it is cold... and Nathan
does not much care for the cold. But we are all confident in Nathan.
I suddenly hear Oggi shouting. I look around and see Michael struggling with his
jacket.... it wraps around his cassette and stops him. I turn around and we try
to get the wheel out, but it is completely stuck. We try and try and it takes
forever to get it loose. Also Kenji came back and now we are with half the team
way way back. We start chasing and Rob drives the team car in front of us.
Francis who is shooting photos at the dam, almost thinks the first group had a fast lap, but it is us, minutes behind the peloton.
speed is so high that I, in third position, can't hold the wheel. But they have
to go and try to get Michael back.
think my race is over... then I see a Korean rider up the road and their team
car coming back. New hopes! I catch the draft and after about one lap, riding at
my max, I return in the peloton.
Then our strategy starts to work. The group is minute away and some teams start to worry. The Guangzhou team chases for a while, then Hong Kong and the Mongolians. Too bad that Koji Fukushima from the Japan National Team is in the break. But his brother Shinichi in the peloton feels so strong that he tries to get away a few times. Finally he evens succeeds and with a few riders he tries to get to the first group that meanwhile has got 8 minutes ahead.
talk to Michael that we can't let him go. Michael says the race has been decided
already probably. We try it with some hard attacks and when we get a gap with
some riders, the Chinese riders get really going. This group goes! We keep going
as hard as we can. I work and help chase while Michael hides himself in the back
of the group to save some juice for if we would make it...
we make it - almost. Leaving the circuits around the lake, we go up towards the
mountains, there we see some cars in the distance and with some last hard pulls
we reach the remainders of the early break.
the brothers Fukushima already have left this group along with 5 others. Nathan
is ready to take over and sets a very unpleasant pace up the foots of the first
the steep part starts, Michael puts on his big ring and takes off. Some brave
riders try to hang on but later they fall back again one by one.
still hang in there and try to survive and the group gets smaller and smaller.
Close to the top, I see something blue in the corner of my eye. I think Nathan
comes up to me to check. But then I see it is Oggi?! On his big ring, he asks me
how many are up the road. Where did he come from? I can't imagine how hard he
must have gone by himself to get back to us.
went so fast on this mountain, that he caught 3 of the 7 on the first climb,
dropped them, then chased solo to the 2nd climb, where he caught a Polish rider
and a rider from the Aisan Team at the very top of the 2nd climb. But the
Fukushima brothers were gone and Michael and the other 2 riders never caught
back. The "Brothers Fukashima" finish with 4 minutes, number 1 and 2
in the stage and GC!
to the action in the stage, Nathan and I keep driving our group to the second
mountain to keep Oggi in a position to still make it to the front. And at the
second mountain he goes again and disappears with two Chinese riders.
think it would be over now for me, but I still survive. And at the flat roads to
Changping I even start to think of forcing a new break. A bigger group with more
fresh riders returns from behind us.
the finish for Michael, the sprint is for 3rd. Michael jumps with 300 meters,
gets a good gap but at the line is just passed by the Polish rider Tomasz
Kloczko and ends up who takes 3rd.
finishes in the next group and is 7th.
a few attacks I can finally get away, still 5 KM to go. A Hong Kong and Japan
National Team rider join me and we go as hard as we can. I am in a good position
as the third on the team to finish and I can secure a good placing in the Team
Many people are watching the race, the last km's there are rows of people at both sides of the road. I give it all I have, finish 14th, check the time and check the distance to the group. That looked good! That effort paid off for us, as we sealed up 2nd in the Team Classement.
good solid race by the whole Marco Polo Team! Everyone rode great and
contributed to successful day for Marco Polo.
1 Koji Fukushima (JPN) 5:06:33
2 Shinichi Fukushima (JPN) 5:06:33
Tomasz Kloczko (DSL - Poland) 5:10:41
Michael Carter (Marco Polo Cycling Team) 5:10:41
Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh (Marco Polo Cycling Team) 5:12:43
Remko Kramer (Marco Polo Cycling Team) 5:15:45
Chi Yin Leung (Marco Polo Cycling Team) 5:16:31
General Classification after Stage 3
1 Koji Fukushima (JPN)
2 Shinichi Fukushima (JPN)
Tomasz Kloczko (DSL - Poland)
Michael Carter (Marco Polo Cycling Team)
Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh (Marco Polo Cycling Team)
Remko Kramer (Marco Polo Cycling Team)
30 Chi Yin
Leung (MPC) 7:14:57.32
34 Nathan Dahlberg (MPC) 7:23:49.25
39 Neeqyae Dsane (MPC) 7:26:44.32
Classification after stage 3
Japan National Team
Marco Polo Cycling Team
Aisan Racing Team - Japan
31 Stage 4 105 KM Criterium Changping centre
is raining and really cold. It is good that we have a nice tent close to the
start line. Todd from Trek arranged this, so we can sit under a roof in his
chairs for a leg rub. Then luckily the rain stops and during the race the road
is not much to win in a flat criterium like this. The Japanese riders take
control and can easily chase back any riders that try to break away from the
it is a race, and anything can happen! Our "freshman" Neequaye gives
it a try and gets away with a strong Polish and a Japanese rider from team
Aisan. They get a good minute ahead. And Neequaye gives it all. But all is too
much... He explodes and gets dropped. Neequaye learns a good lesson - how to
"check yourself, before you wreck yourself..." Now things look
different. With a Team Aisan rider up the road and some Chinese riders got over
there making a group of seven.
wait for a while but nobody shows interest and the gaps get over two minutes.
That means we loose our second place in the Team GC. So we organise and get
going with all six of us. The tempo goes up and with strong riders like Oggi,
Michael and Nathan the peloton behind must be suffering.
a few laps to go we catch back the group and it looks like to come down to a
field sprint again. Kenji decides to give it a try for Oggi. He has been so
strong these days, we think he has chances in a mass sprint. Nathan sets the
pace and keeps us up the front. Entering the last KM I wait for Nathan to pass
the first riders and take the lead. But then the Polish train passes us and we
are boxed in. Oggi finds his way out and passes at the outside. Organisation is
gone and we take the last turn at 500 metres to go. I shift and accelerate,
catch some good speed and pass on the left side. I shout to Oggi to catch my
wheel. I now throw the chain at the 11 and give it all I have. Pass the
sprinting bunch and at 100 metres I am next to the top three. When will Oggi
pass? Then I notice him shouting "Remko" "grr..left!" I pull
to the left and Oggi shoots like a rocket from the inside and throws his bike
forward for ... 4th.
IF I pulled away a little earlier... But "if" and "when"
Ulzii-Orshikh (Oggi) dirty after the last stage of the Tour de China 2004 that
started in the rain. He just finished 4th. (Photo: Francis
Cerny, Nikon camera)
5th, Oggi 8th, I got 13th and the Marco Polo Cycling Team 2nd in Team GC, not
Tomasz Lesniak (DSL - Poland) 2:15:22
Liu Yan (Guandong - China) 2:15:22
Taiji Nishitani (Asian Racing Team - Japan) 2:15:22
Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh (Marco Polo Cycling Team) 2:15:22
Remko Kramer (Marco Polo Cycling Team) 2:15:22
Chi Yin Leung (Marco Polo Cycling Team) 2:15:22
Individual General Classification
1 Koji Fukushima (JPN) 9:19:08.07
2 Shinichi Fukushima (JPN) 9:19:16.06
Tomasz Kloczko (DSL - Poland) 9:23:31.55
Michael Carter (Marco Polo Cycling Team) 9:23:40.74
Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh (Marco Polo Cycling Team) 9:25:50.21
Remko Kramer (Marco Polo Cycling Team) 9:29:07.20
Chi Yin Leung (Marco Polo Cycling Team) 9:30:19.32
Nathan Dahlberg (Marco Polo Cycling Team) 9:39:11.25
Neeqyae Dsane (Marco Polo Cycling Team) 9:42:06.32
Japan National Team
Marco Polo Cycling Team
Aisan Racing Team - Japan
enjoy China some more with some good sightseeing in the city, the Summer Palace
and the modern centre. We have a great dinner in town and enjoy different
authentic dishes with of course delicious Beijing Duck!
the races we had some meetings with the China Cycling Association to discuss the
future cooperation. We have signed a contract with the CCA until the end of 2008
and are the official partner of the China Cycling Association on the sportive
side. We will develop the racing skills of the best Chinese riders in the Marco
Polo Cycling Team which will be a Chinese Continental Team starting in 2005. In
the team there will be a mixture of Chinese and western experienced and talented
the Marco Polo Cycling Team will become the first Chinese professional cycling
team next season!
our meetings we filled in the last details of the things that need to be
arranged now and we can shake hands happily with our friends from OUR cycling
federation. We look forward to a bright future. China has the potential to
become a great cycling country and we are there to develop the first steps
towards the international top and with the Beijing Olympics in 2008 a good first
goal to work to.
would like to thank the race organiser, the staff for their great support and
our partners, Nestle water, Craft, and Trek, and of course the China Cycling
Marco Polo Cycling Team at the Tour de China 2004. From left to right: Jamsran
Ulzii.Orshikh (Mongolia), Michael Carter (USA), Todd McKean from Trek bicycles,
Neequaye Dsane (Netherlands), Chi Yin Leung (Hong Kong), Remko Kramer
(Netherlands) and Nathan Dahlberg (New Zealand). (Photo:
Francis Cerny, Nikon camera)