The 2018 edition of the Hong Kong Cyclothon is bigger and better than ever
The Hong Kong Cyclothon – the biggest cycling event in Hong Kong featuring four races and five cycling activities – has become a must attend event among cyclists from around the globe. The fourth edition, held last weekend, saw an increase in the number of amateur and professional cyclists of more than 5,000 over last year.
“This cyclothon has gone from strength to strength in just four short years and continues to draw more top-notch cyclists,” says Anthony Lau, executive director of the Hong Kong Tourism Board.
“The high level of competition means that we have been able to upgrade the UCI Asia Tour Class 1.1 road race into a world-class spectacle, which is in line with our continued efforts to enhance every element of our diverse range of mega events and underline Hong Kong’s status as the events capital of Asia.”
Adrian Ferguson, a civil engineer from Fermanagh in Ireland, who has lived in Hong Kong for six years but only signed up for the cycling event this year, was delighted with the race.
“It’s brilliant. The route is very flat, and yes it is very good,” said Ferguson, an experienced cyclist who brought along his wife and two children.
This year too saw celebrities and cyclists fly in from Thailand to take part, among them model Surampha “Golf” Yokchotisakul and Channel 8’s actress Rattanaporn “Mint” Klinkularbhirun, who took part in the 50-kilometre ride. Also along for the ride was Pawin “Pong” Suwannacheep, the drummer of modern rock band ModernDog who signed up for the Elite Partners Men’s Open Race over three laps.
“It was really exciting cycling over the bridges, which usually are used for vehicles, and crossing the Hong Kong islands. The wind was very strong,” said Golf.
“Before coming here, I saw some pictures of last year’s cycling event and was astonished at the suspension bridges and the tunnels, which are closed to traffic for this event. The hardest aspect was the 10 cutoff times throughout the 50-kilometre distance. We were really wondering how we would manage our time,” added Mint.
The 10 cutoff times of the 50km ride were at junction of Jordan Road and Lin Cheung Road at 3.6km, Nam Cheong (the junction between Tsing Sha Highway and West Kowloon Highway) at 6.5km, Tsing Long Highway (near the slip road to Tsing Yi Road West) at 14.3km, Nam Wan Tunnel (near Sai Tso Wan Entry) at 15.2km, Nga Cheung Road Flyover (ICC) at 25.9km, Nam Wan Tunnel (near the Sai Tso Wan Entry) at 28.2km, Tsing sha Highway (near Lai Po Road) at 34.3km, Eagle Nest Tunnel (Shatin Toll Plaza) at 38.5km, Eagle Nest Tunnel (Kowloon Side Entry) at 40.7km, and Nga Cheung Road Flyover (ICC) at 47.5km.
Golf and Mint, key opinion leaders and in Hong Kong at the invitation of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, agreed that the most exhausting part of the route was the climb over the long bridge. The admitted they found it hard, even though they had experience of cycling up hills during the International Angel Challenge in Ratchaburi.
“Cycling on the long bridge was tiring and we had to struggle against the wind. We tried to control our bikes while also watching out for other cyclists riding into us,” said Golf.
“We saw one cyclist who had come off his bike and had blood pouring from a head injury.”
I also took part in the 50km ride and was shocked to see the number of injuries. I passed one cyclist who had been left unconscious by his fall and others with obvious though not life-threatening injuries.
“I think that the road was too narrow for the large number of cyclists,” said Golf, who won plenty of admiring looks from hot-blooded Hong Kong males. “I was nearly hit by another cyclist though all the local bikers were friendly and generous.”
“For me, it was thrilling to cycle through the tunnels though I found it more difficult to breathe. We don’t have many tunnels in Thailand,” she said.
“The views were stunning though,” added Mint. “And I was really impressed at how smooth the expansion joints on the bridge were.”
Drummer Pong was excited about taking part in the Men’s Open Race but discovered the age categories defined in the registration meant little in actual race terms.
“I ended up cycling behind some 70 stronger cyclists. But I did my best to follow the group and am pleased to say I didn’t finish last.
“You really need a proper warm up to take part in this kind of race. Usually, I spend longer warming up on my indoor bike but here I had to share with other cyclists so only got 10 minutes. The route took us over bridges and through tunnels and there were a lot of sharp curves. It was fun though I tried to remain aware of safety throughout.”
The climax of this fourth edition Hong Kong Cyclothon was the finale of the Hammer Series 2018 – the first Hammer Series race to be held in the SAR. Some of world’s top professional cycling teams were taking part, among them BMC Racing Team and Trek-Segafredo from the USA, Bora-Hansgrohe and Team Sunweb from Germany, Quick-Step and Lotto Soudal from Belgium, Mitchelton-Scott from Australia, and Team Sky from Great Britain.
The Mitchelton-Scott claimed victory though they admitted the going was tough.
“It was really hard," said Matteo Trentin, after the finish. “Especially because the time trial followed immediately after the 40km point race. There wasn’t any time to recover but I liked it.”
“It’s a really good way to round out the season,” added Cameron Meyer. "It's an important event to us – it's new in the world of cycling and for us to win the series in a city like Hong Kong is really great.”