Kenyan Riders Downunder spent the last two weeks racing on the Tibetan Plateau in China. They were usually racing at around 3200 meters (10400 feet) and it went as high as 4120 meters (13390 feet) last Thursday. This is the Tour of Qinghai Lake, China’s most prestigious race an H.2C event. And the toughest challenge for a team that’s barely 7 months old.

Jason Christie, Suleiman Kangangi, Nathan Eliiott, Geoffrey Langat, Morgan Smith, and Nick Miller make up our stupendous six.

Day 1 ended really badly for the team when an official support motorcycle ploughed into Morgz.

And Morgz got to experience the hospital system of a remote city in western China far away from the megapolises of Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. After being warded for 2 days, Morgz returned to Melbourne accompanied by Garry Elliott.

Meanwhile, things were fast and furious in Qinghai. Assistant DS, Simon Blake had to wear several hats including that of team mechanic. Resident mechanic, Nixon Sewe’s departure from Kenya was delayed by 4 days because of visa complications. And he arrived just in time for Stage 5 of the 13 stage tour. 

The high altitude (3200 meters and above) was taking it’s toll on Jason Christie and Nick Miller. Fortunately for the team, Kenyans Suleiman Kangangi and Geoffrey Langat, and Aussie Nathan Elliott adapted to the high altitude more quickly. Suleiman maintained a GC position in the low 40s for the entire tour and finished in 42nd place - the highest placed KRD rider. Geoffrey finished the tour in 61st place and Nathan Elliott 73rd.

Fortunately for Jase and Nick, the tour descended to less rarefied altitudes of below 2000 meters (6500 feet) from Stage 11. Jase seized this opportunity raced like a demon in Stage 11 and won the “most combative” jersey. Nick finished that stage in 19th place with no time difference between him and stage winner, Jakub Mareczko of Wilier-Southeast.

Jason Christie wins the "Most Combative" jersey in Stage 11. Photo by Simon Blake

Jason Christie wins the "Most Combative" jersey in Stage 11. Photo by Simon Blake

The next day, Jase backed up his newly regained form by finishing 7th in the individual time trial on Stage 12 - only 50 sec behind the stage winner, Andriy Vaslyuk of Kolss-BDC. He pulled off this feat without a time trial bike and helmet. Nathan Elliott finished that stage in 19th place.

The fact that the Qinghai Lake organizers admitted KRD to the most prestigious tour in China is a testament of the esteem in which this 7 month old team with no UCI points is held in the Asia Tour circuit. Our guys acquitted themselves impeccably and showed the organizers that their faith was well placed. In GC placing, Suleiman finished ahead of 4 of the 5 remaining Lampre-Merida riders; and Lampre-Merida is well funded World Tour (division 1) team while KRD is still searching for a title sponsor.

Geoffrey Langat being interviewed. Photo courtesy of Tour of Qinghai Lake

Geoffrey Langat being interviewed. Photo courtesy of Tour of Qinghai Lake

I am quite certain that KRD will be receiving an invitation from the Qinghai Lake organizers for the 2017 tour before 2016 is over. 

And here’s a note to potential sponsors. Back this team while the elevator is still on the ground floor. If you’d like to know more about sponsoring KRD, contact founder and CEO, Nicholas Leong at nicholas@kenyanridersdownunder.com

Credits

  • Banner photo: Courtesy of Mokhriz Aziz
  • Other images: Courtesy of Tour of Qinghai Lake and Simon Blake
  • Video: Courtesy of On the Rivet Managment