KRD has a lot to be proud of in their first Asian Tour - International Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen, which is a mouthful, and fondly abbreviated to ITDBI2016. The tour, held in eastern Java, ran from Wednesday 11 May through Saturday 14 May. The KRD team comprised: Jason Christie (NZ Road Racing champion), Suleiman Kangangi, Joseph Gichora Kamau, Geoffrey Langat, and Samwel Mwangi.
Here’s the honor roll.
Jason Christie, won the polka dot King of the Mountain jersey for Stage 2 last Thursday and promptly followed that up by winning stage 3 on Friday. He nearly had Stage 2 in his bag but was caught with only 300 m to go.
Suleiman Kangangi, finished the tour with 9th place in the GC, and held 4th place at the end of stages 2 and 3.
And the team was in 2nd position on Friday which was only possible by strong performances by Joseph Gichora Kamau (14th) and Geoffrey Langat (17th).
Director of Sport, Garry Elliott, is really happy that most things went according to plan,
"From Stage one we went on the attack and tried to earn a little respect in the team. Jase was very unlucky to get caught in the last 300 meters. For a moment I thought we were going to be in Yellow.
"Into stage two we planned to ride for the KOM (King of the Mountain) jersey which we managed to get, we also moved the team GC position. And Suleiman moving into 4th on GC. Straight away we had respect in the bunch after all these efforts.
"Stage three was to flood the break away and ride for a stage win, once again the boys rode outstandingly, and we got the result we wanted."
On Friday night, our 5 cyclists and fans were totally stoked, and they were “mobbed” by the media and fans. The local newspaper, Radar Banyuwangi, were obviously fans of KRD, if their generous coverage is anything to go by.
According to Garry, "At the finish we were flooded with media and fans, we had to push them away just to get our riders some air. This was huge for the boys, they loved every minute."
But our guys were under no illusion about how hard the 4th and final stage of the tour would be.
"The tour just got better. Jason Christie winning today's stage and am still 4th in GC, team sitting second in GC. #waiting for tomorrow's killer#", said Suleiman on Facebook.
If the guys could almost touch the sky on Friday night, they were back down to earth on Saturday night.
Here’s Garry’s analysis of stage 4,
"Stage 4 is a very hard stage with climbs over 20% and the climb was over 22km long. There were some serious climbers here. Our position at the start of the stage was to try and hang on as long as possible and not to lose much time. To be honest, this stage was very hard and steep, the team cars had to be pushed up by spectators."
KRD went to ITDBI2016 with an open mind. According to Garry, "The goal was to build the team relationship and teach the Kenyans how to race the Asian Tour races."
To that end, our 5 cyclists more than achieved that goal.
To paraphrase Plutarch, they came, they raced, and I am confident that they learned... a lot.
All the best for this week’s Tour de Flores, also in Indonesia, guys.
All the results
Special thanks to Mohd Mokhriz Aziz of MOQA Services, Shah Alam, Malaysia for letting KRD use his photos gratis.
And to Simon Blake for his photos and video.