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Guethoff smashes field in 2016 Dragons Race to Enlightenment

posted 14 May 2016, 01:38 by HK Dragons Triathlon Club   [ updated 14 May 2016, 06:46 ]
In what is now the fourth year of this illustrious race in Hong Kong, we experienced our largest turnout ever with 45 people starting. There have been extremely worthy winners of the Dragons Race to Enlightenment in the past, and this year was no different. Marcel Guethoff, won convincingly for the Lantau Buffalos - the first time a Lantau Buffalo has ever won this race, despite them having 'home' advantage. In the ladies race, the diminutive and highly impressive Ali Watts (also of the Lantau Buffalos (formerly a Dragon)) won convincingly and became the new Strava QOM (https://www.strava.com/segments/3616961) in a comprehensive victory for the club.

In what was a highly contested race, in perfect  - slightly overcast - riding conditions, Guethoff rode away from his competitors on the final climb up to the Buddha, winning with a 1 minute and 15 second advantage over his nearest place rival, James King (SIRs/Project852).

The first move though came from Aron Akesson (Project852), a highly experienced cyclist, and multiple winner of stage races. He launched ahead in the rolling start section and seemed to have gone and built an unassailable lead, but had to take a nature break and was soon overtaken by the rest of the field.

The next move came from Justin Chu (Lantau Buffalos) - aka Jay Cee - a renowned time triallist and well known for his ability to hold sustained levels of power for a prolonged period. He made a decisive move at the base of the Beast and quickly opened the gap on the Peloton. Danger was immediately registered in the rest of the field, and King followed closely by Henrik Pedersen (Dragons/SIRs/Project852) both in top condition following the recent Tour of Friendship (in which they both podiumed) launched the chase. They were quickly followed by Paul Redmayne Mourad (Dragons/SIRs) and the rest of the field including Watts, Erwin Chin (newly in from Penang, Malaysia), Jo Koster (Tritons), Ray Picard (recently qualified for Kona), Michael Bushell (SIRs), Mike Tse (Tritons/Project852) and Anthony Arthur (Tritons).

In what is typical of the race, any sustained charge up the Beast does not keep the group together very long, and within the first kilometer the whole field was strung out trying to negotiate the 18% ramps. By three-quarters of the way up, Guethoff and King were the two clear leaders with Redmayne-Mourad and Koster leading the chasing pack. King was the first to hit the top of the Beast, followed by Guethoff. On the rapid descent they quickly distanced themselves from the rest of the pack and tag teamed on the rolling section to the prison to keep speeds high. Redmayne-Mourad was the strongest of the chasers, but aware that the pack was close behind led by the always lethal Watts. In the meantime, Koster, Chin, Picard and Pedersen formed a semi-alliance but it did not last long as the punishing rollers and the high pace kept the intensity high.

Hitting the flat section to the dam is when any final move has to be made to distance yourself from your competition and true to form this year's race was no different. Anyone who has done this race knows that the hill up to Tai O and then onto the final Buddha climb is not where one can find a sudden burst of acceleration.

Guethoff seemed to appreciate this and as soon as the road turned upwards he rode decisively away from King, opening up a strong lead that proved very hard to challenge. He ended up finishing a highly impressive 75 seconds ahead of King with what seemed like a sudden surge at the end. Redmayne-Mourad was closing in on King, but was not able to match the pace. Further down the field the Tai O Junction climb was doing its job and sorting out the final placings, with Watts, Koster, Chin, Picard and Pedersen gapped out towards the end.

An excellent day and a huge field. Massive congratulations to the Lantau Buffalos for winning both the men and the women's race and well done to all who competed.

Final rankings using Strava (https://www.strava.com/segments/3616961) and interviews on the day, below (I do not have the full field so if anyone knows how the placings fared below Vince etc. ping me at info@hktriclub.com):
Marcel Guethoff (Men's winner)
James King 
Paul Redmayne-Mourad
Ali Watts (Ladies winner)
Jo Koster
Erwin Chin
Ray Picard
Henrik Pedersen
Justin Chu
Michael Bushell
Mike Tse
Anthony Arthur
Craig Wilkeson
Ross Valente
Sheel Kohli
Unal Diego
Vince McIlduff
Antony Pringle
Mike Flint
Jeffrey Wei
Annabel Arthur
Jean Claude
Neville
Peter Davies
Tani Burge
Cora Van Laer
Nicholas Martin
Gilles Normand
Antony Morris
Paul Teague
Stefan Rust


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