by ALP Cycles Coach Patricia
Today's blog is about my experience and adventures from last week in China. I gave my debut as D.S. (Sports Director) for Team TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank at the 3 days Womens World Tour (WWT) race in Chongming Island. To prepare myself, I tried to gather as much info as possible.
During my racing career, I never competed in China or at the Tour of Chongming, so I asked some of my former teammates for feedback. Two weeks before heading to China, I also spent time at the Tour of the Gila to learn some more tips& tricks from TIBCO D.S. Ed Beamon.
Of course the trip to Chongming Island (near Shanghai) included a long travel/ flight and a huge time difference (+14hrs to MST). I left my house very early Monday morning to arrive at the race hotel on Tuesday evening 9pm.
Day 1 on Chongming Island included a ride with the team to shake out the legs from the long travel. Since we had not received the team car yet, I joined the girls for the ride. Good thing that the spare bike was my size :) The 2nd day included a sponsor function for our team sponsor Silicon Valley Bank (SVB). It was a great experience to learn more about the Chinese lifestyle and the people who attended the event were very interested to learn about the team and lifestyle of a pro cyclist. Later on, I had to attend the Team Managers meeting and went to the licence check (to pick up numbers, timing chips etc).
Then race included 3 days of racing. All 3 stages were on flat terrain. Tour of Chongming Island is a pure sprinters race and all the teams bring their best sprint squad. Every day, the race ended in a bunch sprint. Our goal was to place our sprinter Kendall in the top ten.The challenge was that my team included some young and new riders and 5 of the girls have not raced much together. This meant we had to optimize teamwork and maximize all the help for our sprinter Kendall, to set her up for the sprint finish each day.
Bad luck on day 1, as 2 of my riders were involved in a crash. Luckily they were ok and able to rejoin the bunch. I was happy to see how the girls improved each day and we reached our goal with placing Kendall in 11th in stage 2, 6th in stage 3 and she finished 16th in GC. Those placings will give the team important WWT points.
A few fun/ weird/ special facts or experiences from my trip to China:
-the race organization assigned each team a translator (which was very helpful!)
-the maximum altitude reached in the whole race was 60m
-the most interesting part of the race: racing over the 10km long Yangtze River Bridge. The bridge included a "climb" and the only real QOM of the entire stage race.
-watch out for scooters...they buzz around in every direction and you can't hear them as they are all electric
-it is hard to find a supermarket, similar to what we know from in the US or EU. One evening, I drove around in circles for 40 mins trying to find a supermarket (with the help of our translator). We ended up in a very small store 2 mins away from the race hotel.
-all the Radio Tour announcements were in both: English and Chinese
-the roads were in good conditions and every day we had a lot of spectators along the race course
-The Chinese love to take pictures
-Food: the race organization provided full accommodation and meals, however the food was still a challenge as we were not allowed to eat any meat (meat in China usually has a much higher Clenbuterol level which can create a problem with the anti-doping rules). Salad or fruit were not advised to eat as well (only cooked veggies were ok, although we weren't too keen on veggies anymore after our team swanny found a big/ fat caterpillar in her spinach) and also the tap water shouldn’t be used to drink or brush teeth.
-The lunch box we received each day included: 1 banana, 1 bag milk, 1 snickers, 2 sweet buns and 1 fermented egg...yeah you can imagine that my riders weren't too impressed with that lunch box after the race
-I learned 3 Chinese (Mandarin) words: Bingxiang (cooler for bottles), Nǐ hǎo (hello) and xiè xie (thank you)
The Tour of Chongming Island was a great experience. I really liked my role as D.S! Directing at a WWT race is definitely another level. Even though the race was very well organized, it took extra work for us to make sure the girls had everything they needed/ are used to and to perform well. Thank you to my team staff for the great teamwork!