Team Directasia.com has been climbing a mountain for more than 2 years. Each year takes the team slightly higher. Legs and hearts get stronger, pedaling gets more efficient. Despite improvements, one key win has eluded the team.
For more than 2 years Team Directasia.com has ridden their hearts out with one aim: a win at Brides Pool Road, Hong Kong. The course is home to the National Championships and is revered by many as the toughest Hong Kong has to offer. Sunday, over 90 kilometres and 1500 meters of climbing, clear team tactics, aligned with legs of steel, delivered not only the top step of the podium for the Hong Kong based outfit; the team took second and third as well.
On the road
The Hong Kong Cycling Association let riders know the alarm clocks would have to buzz early (4am!) - the Open Category would start at 6am sharp. 27 riders lined the starting grid in the dark. They stared ahead; the first climb ascended up into the distance.
From the start gun, Team Champion system pushed the tempo hard to catch out any riders with cold legs (which was common at 6am!). Simon Little (Directasia.com) ensured the early attacks were controlled. In support was Rob Lamb (Directasia.com).
The early pace was high. The attacks plenty. Thomas Cheung (Champion System) drove his troops hard and Brad Peppinck (Directasia.com) came forward to keep Directasia at the front of the bunch. The first lap and a half was explosive - numerous riders were dropped.
Mid way through the second lap a small break went away including John Tonks (Directasia.com). It was quickly brought back.
At the end of the second lap the race had been split. 15 riders remained in the front and Brad Peppinck, Hin Chiu, and Chris Taylor (Directasia.com) moved to the front taking up policing efforts and setting the pace for a hard attack from Fred Clatworthy and John Tonks or the snappy legs of Mike Maiers.
After a hard second lap, many tired riders looked for a lap of consolidation. Sensing a slow in the pace Hin Chiu (Directasia.com) burst from the peloton. He was joined by King Long Chau (Champion System) and the two rode away from the group. The peloton let them go. Despite the effort Chiu could be seen smiling on the climbs. The young rider from Hong Kong looked smooth and effortless.
As the peloton crossed the start/finish line entering the fourth lap, the real race of attrition started. Directasia climbers Chris Taylor and Brad Peppinck drove the pace each climb while team Champion System continued to attack. Each time Directasia was able to lift the tempo, reeling them in.
Ahead in the break, Chiu’s infernal pace caused cramps in his breakaway companion and by the start of the fifth lap the Champion System rider was dropped. Behind, Mike Maiers (Directasia.com) attacked the front group in an attempt to bridge across to his team mate. Maiers is known for his quick legs and managed to get a substantial gap. His team mates behind offered no help in brining him back and forced Team Champion System to work to bring him back. They did so by the end of the lap.
As soon as Maiers was back in the frey, Fred Clatworthy (Directasia.com) flexed his quads and lungs. The powerful attack half way through the fifth lap caused the pack to grimace, and Clatworthy was followed by Thomas Cheung (Champion System). The attack created a chase group of seven riders as Clatworthy set a hard tempo on the steep rises. Behind, Directasia set a disruptive tempo leading into the sixth lap.
Ahead, Chiu maintained his advantage alone…and smiling…
On the final lap riders started to fight for the minor places. Chiu was away. Close behind him was Clatworthy charging hard. Behind Clatworthy was a group of five including his team mate John Tonks in a group with Shohei Ikeda (OSSA Janiton).
As Clatworthy gained ground on Chiu, Tonks attacked behind. Clatworthy would catch Chiu and Tonks would gain a gap for third on the podium.
Directasia achieved a monument on Sunday in Hong Kong. The team will continue it’s focus; ‘everything for the team’.