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Pears and Hudson retains Dragons Individual Time Trial 2019

posted 2 Nov 2019, 00:53 by HK Dragons Triathlon Club   [ updated 2 Nov 2019, 01:38 ]
On a beautiful sunny morning, in perfect racing conditions with low humidity and even a cool breeze, 17 men and women lined up for the final Dragons ITT of the year. This race is a classic. It is two big loops of 24km each ( on a virtually flat stretch of tarmac. Total elevation on the 48.1km segment is 31m - barely noticeable. There is no long hill to push up, there are no long downhills that can speed you up. This is about how much power you can put out over 48km, or about 70-80 mins. Its length means it is a course ideal for triathletes who train to hold power for hours on end than road cyclists who are trained to surge and dart, but the road cyclists have done damage here in the past. It is an interesting competition between the two disciplines. There is no hiding. Strava is the ultimate arbiter. It is on this course that souls are bared, truths are told and you realise who you really are (ok - that's a bit much, but I love a bit of drama!!.)

Every year, we race it twice - once in the Spring and once in the autumn. The Yellow Jersey is awarded to the fastest time recorded in the year by a Dragon out of the two races. From the Spring race Paul Madden delivered an amazingly quick 1.06.44 to take the Strava record (the pre-Strava record from 2011 is owned by the late Colin Robertson, with 1.05.59), but the fastest Dragon was Duncan Watt with a time of 1.12.33, while among the women, the never ageing Christina Hudson had produced a time of 1.20.14. These were the times to beat to get Yellow. 

And lining up to do so, we had some formidable athletes. From Hong Kong's Team Unfound, back from big success at the Masters Tour of Chiang Mai bike race - the big men had gathered. The slightly built, super fast Ekapak, the similarly svelte Steven Baker, the wily strategist James Sutton, the pocket rocket Philippe Cosentino, the power purist Alex 'Stoppsy' Stopps and big burly Josh Grindrod, who had come all the way from Macau. From the Dragons contingent, the formidable Mat Pears was leading the challenge, joined by the understated Nick Kearns, the 'never say die' Cora van Laer and the wonder lady Wynnie Fung. From our sister club, the cool, calm swede Bo Kratz was flying the colours of the SIRs, while we also welcomed a healthy contingent from Discovery Bay, including Dan 'Car Park Warrior' Mullins, Olivier 'Swim-Run' Baillet and his much better half Ann Lavandon. Dangerman Chris Liu rounded off the start list, a perenniial danger in all these races and dominant in HK's local racing scene.

Going off at 30 second intervals, the ladies led the way, while the fast men waited till the end, As the 2018 Yellow Jersey winner, Pears lined up last, with a crowd of Unfound favourites ahead of him.

On lap one, Grindrod from Macau had surged to the front and seemed to be gaining ground. Pears also was making up huge gains, but not without a fight as Eka, Sutton and Stopps were all fighting tooth and nail to gain ground on the chasers and the men in front of them. In the women's race, the imperious Wynnie Fung was embarrassing the mid-pack men who were fast realising that lining up behind her might not have been the smartest move. By the end of the lap, Grindrod had what seemed like a huge lead, but it was equally clear that Pears, who had started more than two minutes after him had put in some very fast riding, and recorded the fastest lap split at 33 minutes 39 seconds for 24km, with Grindrod in second at 34.17, while Eka was also taking no prisoners at 34.53. Pocket rocket Cosentino unfortunately had to retire with two punctures in quick succession and did the rest of his race in a cab.

By lap two it was clear that Wynnie was the clear favourite to take the women's race though perhaps not the yellow for the year, but the men's race was not so clear cut. Though Grindrod was out in front, Eka was chasing in second and Pears was moving fast - but not fast enough to catch them. This was going t mean that by standing at the finish and seeing who rolled in first would not be an indication of who rode fastest. Pears was clearly slowing but was Grindrod and Eka also slowing? it was tough to tell.

Strava is final and tells the story. Pears had just done enough to hold on and keep Grindrod and Eka at bay. Wynnie stormed the women's race, but was not able to overhaul Christina Hudson's previous time from the Spring race to claim Yellow. So a well deserved victory goes to Christina Hudson, who wins the women's Yellow Jersey for the second consecutive year, and to Mat Pears who beat Duncan Watt's time from the first race to also take a second consecutive Yellow Jersey.

It was a fantastic event today - as ever, and while the victors grab the limelight, there were valiant performances put in by everyone. Special mention should go in particular to our newcomers, both from Lantau: Scott Ramsay and Michael Kyprianou, who we hope loved the experience and will be back for more, Massive thanks should also go to our marshalls, all of whom would have given the competitors some serious concerns, had they decided to compete, instead of helping keep everyone safe. So big thanks to Guy Thomas for slowing down traffic coming off the #8 Highway, to 'Vivdog' Vivek Varadajaran for standing at the service road entry and exit point and facing off against the construction lorries, to Nick Adamus and Adrian Halkes for blocking buses at the Pak Mong village, and of course to Kris 'trippel' Guns, who made me ride at 350 watts because apparently it is good for me!!

Final placings below (all times are Strava, unless otherwise indicated)

Mathew Pears 1.08.35
Josh Grindrod 1.09.37
Ekapak 1.10.08
Alex Stopps 1.10.50 (somehow managed to avoid being recorded on Strava) 
Chris Liu 1.11.57
Steven Baker 1.12.42
James Sutton 1.12.48
Olivier Baillet 1.15.45
Daniel Mullin 1.19.56
Wynnie Fung 1.22.49 (Winner of the women's race)
Bo Kratz 1.26.26(1.15.02 moving time)
Scott Ramsey 1.26.46
Cora Van Laer 1.27.00
Nick Kearns 1.28.07
Anne Lavandon 1.28.38
Michael Kyprianou 1.28.54

Philippe Cosentino DNF