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Pears smashes the Dragons ITT for the men's Yellow Jersey & Hudson survives a stiff challenge for the women

posted 3 Nov 2018, 23:45 by HK Dragons Triathlon Club   [ updated 4 Nov 2018, 15:58 ]
Overcast and wet conditions did not dampen the enthusiasm for the second and final instalment of the Dragons ITT competition for 2018. 
In a format where the fastest time wins, and you get two races during the course of the year to give it a go, there is a natural tension for the winners of the first race. Ryan 'Big South African' Kemp and Christina 'Canadians are all good' Hudson, with times of 1.13.48 and 1.20.26 respectively, became natural targets, particularly as this was the last chance for anyone to stake their claim to this year's Dragons Yellow Jersey.
And there seemed to be plenty who felt they were in with a shot. In the men's race, the big guns of the triathlon and the bike racing scene showed up. The men not to be messed with included Peter 'here's hoping' Hope, newcomer Alex 'TALL' Stopps, Mat 'I'll swim round the Island later' Pears, James 'please no puncture' Sutton, Rob 'Kona' Turnbull, Andrew 'battered but not broken' Sharkey, Chris 'dangerman' Liu and Jacky 'surprise package'  Leung, While the women's field included Jenny 'I swim best' Barbour, new comer Bessa Odendahl, stalwart Karen 'Veen' Fairley and of course one of the strongest women amateur cyclists in Hong Kong this year, Wynnie 'best Halloween costume' Fung. All were capable of grabbing the yellow, and although all professed modesty about their chances pre-race, it was clear that the incumbents would need to worry given the strength of the field that assembled on the start line on Magic Road
In the men's race, Kemp was not leaving anything to chance and was back to make sure he gave a good account of himself, but in the women's race, a trip abroad meant that Hudson could not attend to protect her position.
The odds of an upset were additionally shortened by the fact that the weather - at 20 degrees - was particularly cool for this early phase of a Hong Kong autumn. Another factor in favour of an upset were the sheer numbers - we had 35 racers show up, in what was record attendance, and an indicator of just how popular this race has become.
Setting off at 30 second intervals kept drafting to a minimum, but it did not matter - the speeds from the start were very high from almost everybody
The last set of riders to leave in particular, definitely had designs on victory. Firstly, in the women's race, last to leave Fung was right in front of all competitors by the middle of the first lap of this two lap course, having eaten up all the slower men as she whizzed by. In the men's race it was more complicated, as some of the earlier starters proved to be very strong, and difficult to catch., while at the back a battle was ensuing among the strong men of the peloton.
Maybe that was the reason that in the end we saw such fast times. The Individual Time Trial is a race where not only do individuals heap pressure on themselves to keep the speeds high - if it ain't hurting it ain't working - but mentally unless you left last you know someone is always chasing and if you were the last to leave, you are the hunter and the rest are the hares!
In the women's race, Fung had to contend with the fact that  she was well in front by 14km of this 48km course, which with no one else to chase, meant that she may have naturally and sub-consciously succumbed to a slowing and conservation of energy, that proved costly in the end.
In the men's race there would be no such luxury. Leung actually became the race leader and was the first to cross the line after 48km, in a display of raw speed and power, but he was by no means the fastest.
The relentless chasing meant that Pears, Kemp & Stopps were moving the quickest round the course. Leaving second to last, Kemp seemed to be traversing the field fastest from the start, moving rapidly through the field by the middle of the first lap, though not able to overhaul a resolute Pears who was almost literally flying round the course, and actually accelerated at the end. Apart from needing to keep Pears in his sights, the other issue Kemp had to deal with was a stubborn Stopps, who started way ahead of both of them, and was not letting either catch him.
Another surprise factor, which was probably on Stopps' mind, was a resilient Sharkey, who surprised everyone (or at least me) by producing unmitigated power levels, that put some of his usual competitors in some relative shade. Indeed, even Stopps couldn't catch Sharkey in what was a virtuoso performance from him.
Great performances were also put in by Hope and Sutton - both part of new HK racing team, Fry Group Unfound - who on this performance look like they can really shake up the Asian cycling racing scene in the future
All this meant that in the men's race, not only did Pears pull out a huge 1.09.11 - and become the only man to go below 1.10 in the ITT this year, but Kemp's time of 1.10.28 was a full 3 minutes faster than his first ITT this year, but still not enough to grab the top spot on the podium.
While in the women's race, though Fung put together a huge performance, clocking a moving time on Strava of 1.20.51, she was an agonising 25 seconds short of Hudson's earlier time.
So a huge congratulations goes to Mat 'Pearsy' Pears and Christina 'don't ask me that at 5am' Hudson for a fine victory and are winners of the 2018 Dragons yellow jersey. Full placings below. Strava times take precedence unless otherwise stated. A special thanks also to the marshalls on the course Chris Gunns and Florian Schneider.

Mat Pears - 1.09.11
Ryan Kemp - 1.10.28
Alex Stopps - 1.11.02
Peter Hope - 1.11.23
James Sutton - 1.12.46
Henrik Pedersen - 1.13.13
Tom Batt - 1.13.28
Andrew Sharkey 1.13.37
Philippe Cosentino - 1.13.54
Chris Liu - 1.15.03
Dan Betteridge - 1.15.07
Jules Doyle - 1.16.06
Jacky Leung - 1.16.14
Rob Turnbull - 1.16.25
Dom Edmondson - 1.17.13
Rupert Griffiths - 1.17.17
Chi Cheung - 1.17.31
Jeremy Borne - 1.17.50
Wynnie Fung - 1.20.51 - FIRST FEMALE
Guy Thomas - 1.22.15
Rob Van Veen - 1.23.13
Antoine Chenevier - 1.23.22 (segment not recorded on Strava)
Jenny Barbour - 1.23.56 (time not on Strava)
Adrian Halkes - 1.25.19
Karen Fairley - 1.25.50
Andy Jepps - 1.27.03
Bessa Odendaal - 1.27.46
Nick Kearns - 1.28.33
Yves Klenk - 1.28.33
Julian Trott - 1.28.44 (time not on Strava)
Ric Shadforth - 1.29.53
Gareth Hirst - 1.30.48 (segment not recorded by Strava)
Moray Taylor-Smith 1.35.05 (segment not recorded by Strava)
Laurent Rosfelder - 1.45.17

Dan Faulkner - DNF