World Wide Cycling

                 Qinghai Lake Tour 2003



Marco Polo Cycling Club

The Marco Polo Cycling Team travelled to China to participate in the Qinghai Lake Tour 2003.


Following riders were on the team:

Michael Carter (USA)

Nathan Dahlberg (New Zealand)

Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh (Oggi) (Mongolia)

Kay Kermer (Germany)

Cory Lange (Canada)

Blake Caldwell (USA)


The staff were:

Peter Coates: Team Director / Soigneur

Wilco Geerts: Mechanic

Linna Zhang: Soigneur/Translator


The programm of the Tour of Qinghai Lake 2003:


August 10: Stage 1 circuit race Xining; flat; 8.7 km x 10


August 11: Stage 2 Xining to Xihaizhen; 184.7 km; one very long, high climb untill km 100 by the looks of it, if I see correctly 1200 meters altitude diff: 2200 - 3400; then some little climbs and downhill finish.


August 12: Stage 3 Xihaizhen-Niaodao 152.1km; biggest climb in the beginning again, this time just over 300m alt diff., then couple smaller ones, flat finish.


August 13: Stage 4: Niaodao-Qinghai Lake Hotel 120.2 km; pretty flat, no more then 100m alt diff per climb.


August 14: Stage 5; Qinghai Lake Hotel- Xining 175.5 km some rollers and then down a long way.


August 15: Stage 6, Xining to Men Yuan; 153 km; BIG climb km 80-120 cannot read alt meters on the fax... finish downhill again.


August 16: Stage 7; Men Yuan To Xining 170 km; BIG climb 1000 meters alt diff between km 110 and 140 then 30 km down, finish downhill again.


August 17: Stage 8; circuit race in Xining 96 km (8km x 12); flat


Report by Peter Coates and Nathan Dahlberg:


The Second Tour de Qinghai Lake International Cycling Race.


The Tour of Qinhai lake in only its second year is recognisably the second largest and most important race in Asia and has been one of our teams major objectives for the season 2003.  The strongest opposition on paper from the 20 teams of 6 had to be the Italian national professional mixed team, consisting of 6 division one professional's, the next best were the Giant Asian Professional cycling team and then Flanders I team Nova, a strong second division Belgium team. There are always the locals to worry about as well, MP's own Wong Kam Po riding for the Hong Kong National team this time and highly motivated Chinese rider Wang Gaungzhou ,who was 3 days in leaders jersey last year. 


One Marco Polo Cycling Team rider somewhere near the opening ceremony in Xining. (Photographer: Linna Zhang)


This year's race was 8 days long with 4 days ridden at an elevation over 3200 meters including two mountain stage's that saw the bike riders climb two huge climbs that were over 30km long and just under 4000 meter's, made it look once again, a race for the climbers.


At the opening ceremony, from left to right; Nathan Dahlberg, Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh, Cory Lange, Kay Kermer, Michael Carter and Blake Caldwell. (Photographer: Linna Zhang)


August 10: Stage 1 circuit race Xining


The first stage a 87km circuit race in Xining was won by Marco Polo rider Wong Kam-Po riding for the Hong Kong China team for Dave Mac Kenzie of I team Nova. The 200.000 strong crowd of Chinese spectators went wild after watching one of their 'own' win and both Wong and Dave had to escape the podium by ambulance !!! The best Marco-Polo riders where Ulzii-Orshikh Jamsran finishing 7th and Kay Kermer 8th.


August 11: Stage 2 Xining to Xihaizhen


The next day the race started in Xining and raced towards the Tibetan plateau to a town called Xihaizhen at an altitude of 3200meters.  This was a difficult stage that saw the rides climb a very long steady climb that was over 80km long. A dangerous break developed immediately and Marco Polo with the Spanish team set about controlling the deficit. At the top of the climb under the attacks of Mike Carter the bike race split up into several small bunches that regrouped and then split up again when on the plateau due to the strong cross winds. This day showed us the strength and depth of the Italian riders who had played a very low key race tactically till now, Mattea Carrara finishing alone and Elia Aggiano winning from the following group a few seconds back which contained Michael Carter in 9th and Ulzii-Orshikh Jamsran was 14th a further one minute and thirty second's down.


Amazing views around the Qinghai Lake, flowers and snowy mountains and the field breaks up into pieces. (Photographer: Linna Zhang)


This stage was a very difficult day for the Korea riders with 5 not finishing and one of those riders collapsed at top of the climb and fell into a coma with his heart stopping.  He received medical attention straight away and came out of the coma half an hour later.  The reason for this happened is that racing at these high altitudes can be very dangerous for some riders.  The race organizing committee had stressed this at the beginning. So they had organized three medical teams and one team specializing in high altitude to make it safe for all riders taking part.


August 12: Stage 3 Xihaizhen-Niaodao


The caravane behind the race riding in a desert landscape at the Qinghai-plateau. (Photographer: Linna Zhang)


The 3rd stage was raced on the plateau beside Qinghai Lake over a distance of 152 km starting from Xihaizhen to Niaodao.  The morning was cold and wet and the wining break, once again under the impulsion of Mike Carter went in the first 28km which climbed steadily up 600 meters from the 3100meter high start town. Marco Polo was definitely the team of the day with four in the break of 18 riders. The stage was one by Wang Gouzhang from China with Marco-Polo rider Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh coming in second. Michael Cater was 15th Blake Caldwell was 17th and Cory Lange was 18th.


"Old friends", Oggi (Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh) from Mongolia and Nathan Dahlberg from New Zealand. (Photographer: Linna Zhang)


August 13: Stage 4: Niaodao-Qinghai Lake Hotel


Stage 4 on paper looked the easiest day of the bike race.  The stage covered only 120km and was relative flat from Niaodao to Qinghaihu Hotel and basically all tail wind. It was the fastest stage with an average speed of 48.456km/h, however for Marco-Polo it was as disastrous day, with all the team riders missing the split in the side wind. The best rider this day for Marco-Polo a non riding team member who racing for Indonesia team was Anno Pederson and he finishing 21st.  The winner that day was David McKenzie from team Flanders. This day we saw our best rider Michael Carter loosing 1minute and forty seconds on general classment.


August 14: Stage 5; Qinghai Lake Hotel- Xining


Stage 5 was mostly down hill and covered 172.5km in wet and cold conditions.

The bad weather and hard head wind blocked the race reducing it to a bunch sprint. The day started from Qinghaihu Hotel to Xining. Michael Cater trying to win back some morale for the team after the miserable day before took of on an early solo break winning both mountain and town sprints a move that would place him later in the top 3 on both classments. The stage was one by Carrara Matteo of Italy, and the best Marco-Polo rider's were Kay Kermer finishing 12th Blake Caldwell 14th and Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh 24th.


August 15: Stage 6, Xining to Men Yuan

Qinghaimountains: Racing at high altitude. (Photographer: Linna Zhang)


Stage 6 was the first mountain stage of the race between Xining to Menyuan over 153kms. The race was highly animated before the main climb but despite the race been already in several groups before the climb the Mountain was a 30km giant straight out of the Tour De France and all the real action took place there. Marco-Polo had Michael Carter once again riding super in the front group of 5 and just a minute behind in the second group we had two more riders, Blake Caldwell and Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh. Blake Caldwell being the youngest member of the team only just 19, performed an incredible ride. He finished 13th 51 seconds down on the leaders and in the same group as Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh came in 9th. Michael Carter was 4th and the Italians again showed their strength with Lunghi Denis winning and Cunego Damiano coming in second.

That night the town of Menyuan put on an incredible nights entertainment for both race and local towns people and every foreigner had to sign a million autographs - rider and official alike!!


August 16: Stage 7; Men Yuan To Xining


Stage 7 started in Menyuan and finished Huzhu 170km away. The race entered a national park and the scenery was even more stunning and beautiful than the day before and from the mountain views we could have easily been in Switzerland. Race leader Wang Guangzhong had once again had an incredible tour, been leader since stage 3. However despite several hard days racing the general classment still lay wide open and  just as last year the whole race was to be decided on this last mountain stage. Italian Damiano launched an attack at the base of the days main climb and was joined by Mizabani, but unfortunately for us Mike Carter just missed the move which decided the stage and race. Finally with the first warm day the Marco-polo team showed their true potential with 5 rider's coming in the top 2 groups. Our best rider was Blake Caldwell coming in 9th Michael Carter was 14th, Kay Kermer 19th, Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh 21st and with the Team Captain Nathan Dahlberg 26th. The Italian Cunego Damiano won the stage.

Team manager Peter Coates and Mechanic Wilco Geerts. (Photographer: Linna Zhang)


August 17: Stage 8; circuit race in Xining


Stage 8 a 98km Circuit race in Xining, saw 81 riders from that original 120 starters start. 78 finished this stage as three had to stop due to sickness and one of these riders unfortunately was young Blake Cardwell who had ridden an incredible race till now and definitely is a big future talent. Ronny Lauke won the stage for the German team. A small breakaway of ten riders rode away 20km after the start were never seen by the main bunch through out the rest of the race. No Marco-Polo rider's were present in this relatively easy break and our best on this stage was Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh who finished 22nd.


Cunego Damiano of Italy won the race, Mizbani Irangagh Ghader of Giant Asia Cycling was second, Wang GouZhang of China came in third.  The best Marco Polo rider was Michael Carter, who came in 8th, 2minute and 55 seconds down, Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh was 12th 7minute and 5 seconds down.


Italians team won the team classment Giant Asia was second and then came in Marco-Polo for 3rd place 15 minutes down. Only two teams finished with all six riders and that was the Italians and the Chinese national team.


Mizbani of Giant won the mountains and Michael Carter was 3rd and he was also third in the sprint ace, which was won by Daryl Impey from South Africa.


The Marco Polo Cycling Team in Xining, from left to right; Cory Lange (Canada), Blake Caldwell (USA), Nathan Dahlberg (New Zealand), Michael Carter (USA), Kay Kermer (Germany) and Jamsran Ulzii-Orshikh (Mongolia). (Photographer: Linna Zhang)


The Second Tour de Qinghai Lake International Cycling race was once again a great success. This year the racing was harder due to the tough weather conditions and increased race distances. With more town finishes the number of spectators watching the race had increased, two-fold. The Marco Polo team and Mike Carter in particular, rode a good race but race tactics which had a bigger role this year than the year before played into the hands of the Italians, who sat back till the very end watching the other teams fight it out amongst themselves. The accommodation and food was of high standard, and the races organizing just as high standard as any top European races. The best thing about this race this year was that there were no transfers between stage's, as each day's racing starting where the previous days finished.


Marco Polo would like to thank the China Cycling Association for inviting us and we looks forward in racing this race again next year.


Peter Coates Team Manager.

Nathan Dahlberg team captain




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