KRD takes team bronze at Tour of China I

KRD takes team bronze at Tour of China I

Heartiest congratulations to our guys for their achievements in the Tour of China I. You guys rock!

Here's the potted version.

3rd in teams GC - in front of Astana City (Astana's conti team) and Avanti IsoWhey as well as many others.

Stage 6
1st place intermediate sprint
2nd place KOM 1
1st place KOM 2

Thanks to Simon Blake for that update, photos and the video.

Results: http://www.procyclingstats.com/race/Tour_of_China_I_2016

As I write this blog post, the guys are hard a work in the Tour of China II. Best of luck fellas.

KRD races on the roof of the world at the Tour of Qinghai Lake

KRD races on the roof of the world at the Tour of Qinghai Lake

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

Getting into the swing of things

Getting into the swing of things

The 2016 cycling season has really gotten underway.

From Sunday, July 17 through Saturday, July 30, KRD will compete in the toughest race of their first year as a professional team - the Tour of Qinghai Lake, on the Tibetan plateau, 3200 m above sea level. This is a UCI 2.HC race, which for the uninitiated, is one grade below 2.UWT that includes the Tour de France and Giro D'Italia. 13 days of high-altitude rarefied air racing with only one rest day. 

KRD in the presentation ceremony of the Tour of Qinghai Lake on Sat July 16, 2016

KRD in the presentation ceremony of the Tour of Qinghai Lake on Sat July 16, 2016

In Kenya, the KRD continental guys were back to impart what they had learnt in Australia to the younger riders in the developmental programme.

They competed in 2 races.

Farmer’s Choice 60km

The 4 KRD guys - Gichora, Mwangi, Suleiman and Geoff - rode aggressively, launching repeated attacks. Suleiman broke clear at about halfway.  The KR Iten and Nakuru boys did some turns and Suleiman was brought back with about 10km to go.

Salim Kipkemboi of Kenyan Riders pips the pros at their game. Photo courtesy of Tonny Githinji

Salim Kipkemboi of Kenyan Riders pips the pros at their game. Photo courtesy of Tonny Githinji

The race came down to a sprint. Salim Kipkemboi, the lad who used to work as a firewood hauler when we met him down in the valley when he was still a child, won from Karaya then Suleiman. Mwangi 4th, Josphat 5th.

The 4 KRD group were clearly unhappy. Kenyan Riders Iten were delighted. Whatever the outcome, the KRD continental guys made it a real race, and forced the rest of the guys in Kenya to lift their game…which is pretty much the whole point of the project.

Great Rift Valley Challenge 100 km

This race had more than 2000m of climbing in it, and has developed a reputation as the toughest race in Kenya. KRD dominated this race. Geoff Langat attacked on a descent, opening a 4 minute gap that was never closed. The won the race handily. Gichora won the KOM points, and ultimately finished 3rd. On the final climb, Suleiman rode off the front of the peloton and closed within a minute of Geoff.
 
So KRD finished 1, 2, 3. Geoff, Suleiman, Gichora.

The overarching mission of the KRD guys was to spread the culture of cycling in Kenya. They did this like missionaries. They spent time chatting to the younger guys, and went on training rides with them. They always wore their blue KRD kit and they spent some time with Kinjah’s group in Kikuyu when they went to apply for Chinese visas.

They have been wonderful ambassadors for the team. They weren’t happy with the Farmer’s Choice race but they completely dominated the Great Rift Valley Challenge and showed that they are a class above the rest at the moment, which we hope makes them aspirational role models.

And back in Australia

Sammy and Ayub had their own adventures. It’s been a pretty cold and unfamiliar winter for our intrepid sojourners.

They went with Morgz and Nick Miller to the Gold Coast to participate in the QRTS 2-day race in Warwick, the highlight was which was a blitzkrieg team time trial where the 4 of them rode on their road bikes and normal wheels to a 4th place, only 30s behind the winning team.

An annual report photo: KRD at the QRTS Warwick time trial. Photo by Nicholas Leong

An annual report photo: KRD at the QRTS Warwick time trial. Photo by Nicholas Leong

A week later, Sammy, Ayub, and Morgz won the team classification VRS Eildon race.

And finally, summing up an eventful month, the KRD team are off to their biggest race of the season, the UCI 2HC Tour of Qing Hai Lake, where they’ll meet Word Tour and ProConti teams.

The season is truly underway, and the races are afoot! Exciting times indeed.

Credits

Photos by Tonny Githinji and Nicholas Leong 

KRD caps Indonesian campaign with a podium finish

KRD caps Indonesian campaign with a podium finish

Today Kenyan Riders Downunder set a new performance benchmark for themselves - they achieved a podium finish - 3rd in the inaugural Tour de Flores, a HCI 2.2 tour. Jason Christie won the first stage and the sprinter’s jersey. He kept the sprinter’s jersey till the end of stage 3 despite a terrible crash in stage 2.

According to CyclingIQ, the Tour de Flores is a different beast of a race because “there isn’t a single stage that can be said to favour sprinters. Every one of the five stages in this week’s race contains climbs that are either Cat 1, Hors catégorie, or a combination of the two.”

Their journey in the inaugural Tour de Flores was almost a perfect reflection of the mountainous terrain of every one of the 5 stages that made up this tour with each stage filled with unexpected setbacks and nail biting finishes. 

Garry Elliott, KRD’s Director of Sport is our guest blogger for this edition and here’s his account of the team’s performance during this tour.

*****************

Stage One Jason told me he would win the stage before the start. They set off for stage one and it wasn’t long before Mwangi and Jason were in the winning move. The breakaway consisted of 9 riders with 3 teams with two riders in it. With approx 1.5 km to go Mwangi attacked the break and got a 7 second lead. I thought this could be the first win at Continental level for Mwangi. 

Jason Christie powers across the finish line to take stage 1. Photo courtesy of Mokhriz Aziz

Jason Christie powers across the finish line to take stage 1. Photo courtesy of Mokhriz Aziz

Jase sat on and waited for them to chase as they looked at each other. Finally Kinan rider chased, and then Jason came off his wheel to take the stage as they caught Mwangi. This is REAL TEAM WORK at its best.

Jason Christie takes stage 1. Photo by Simon Blake.

Jason Christie takes stage 1. Photo by Simon Blake.

Jason's stage win was featured on BeritaSatu TV (Indonesian TV network) as a prime time segment.

Stage 2 was a hard and hilly stage. I wanted Jason to teach the boys how to defend the jersey as we believed we could hold this until stage 4 of this tour. The boys rode the front like pro’s, and listened to Jase and his instructions. We had flat tires and attacks thrown at them all day yet they controlled the race so that we could wear the jersey another day. Unfortunately with 15km to go Jason had a double flat at 70km hr on a decent which sent him flying into a concrete ditch. He managed after 10 minutes to get back on his bike and chase the best he could. This put a real dampener on all our hard work.

Stage three we decided we must continue for team classification and chase the sprinter’s jersey for as long as possible. Currently we were in 5th place on Teams and wanted to make the podium after the five stages. Jason went early in a move and grabs maximum points for the jersey even though he was in extreme pain with his face all swollen and his right side all bruised. We also had another bad day with flats but the boys all managed to finish close to the front of the race and push the team into 4th on teams. We also managed to hold onto the sprinters Jersey.

Up hill all the way. Photo courtesy of Mokhriz Aziz.

Up hill all the way. Photo courtesy of Mokhriz Aziz.

Stage four was a strange stage as it started with a 35 km downhill with over 300 bends in it! I saw Jason at the back of the peloton not looking real comfortable. I withdrew Jason from the tour at this point and now it was up to the Kenyans to ride themselves onto the podium for teams. They did this, and we became third on teams 10 minutes behind 2nd place.
 
Stage 5 the hardest stage of the tour I believe. After our meeting we had a plan to isolate as many riders as possible for 7 Eleven team and try to gain the 10 minutes and move the team into 2nd Position. This day I was very nervous for them, they were all confident but I thought we could lose badly and maybe not even get a podium at all and drop right back to 10th on teams.

They had a real good warm up as in the first 10km they had their first Hors catégorie (HC) climb. Within the first 30km of the race there were riders all over the place. In fact, over 50 riders had been spat from the front of the race. No Kenyans! OMG! They are riding strong.

KRD's first podum finish in the UCI Asia Tour. Photo by Simon Blake.

KRD's first podum finish in the UCI Asia Tour. Photo by Simon Blake.

They managed to all finish in the top 20 of riders that finished the stage. We just missed out on second by 1 minute. What a ride from these guys! We had lots of positive comments from World Tour riders and from Commissars saying we are a real strong team at CT (UCI Continental) level and will be watching this team go places in the future.
 
Overall we went into this tour to ride a good teams classification, we ended up with third on Teams, one a stage lead the tour were first team in stage one and held the sprinters jersey for three stages.
 
What a marketing opportunity for a company to get on board with - we showed the Asia Tour we deserve to be there.

*****************

To appropriate an Indonesian phrase. KRD BOLEH - which translates to KRD CAN ACHIEVE. And achieve they did.

Also, do read Jason Christie’s engaging account of his experiences in the Tour de Flores.

Results

From Pro Cycling Stats 

Credits

  • Special thanks to Mohd Mokhriz Aziz of MOQA Services, Shah Alam, Malaysia for letting KRD use his photos gratis
  • Video and photos by Simon Blake
  • Newsreel from BeritaSatu TV

An East African social enterprise keeps pedaling

An East African social enterprise keeps pedaling

Breaking News

KRD's Jason Christie won the first stage of the inaugural Tour de Flores. And he also won the sprinter's jersey! And Kenyan Riders Downunder is the number 1 team. Samwel Mwangi finished 9th. Now that's an excellent day at the office. Congrats guys on an brilliant race! Today's results.

Jason Christie celebrating his stage victory. Photo by Simon Blake.

Jason Christie celebrating his stage victory. Photo by Simon Blake.

Meanwhile in Kenya

While the guys from Kenyan Riders Downunder are racing somewhere on the planet, there’s a lot happening on the ground in Kenya that we don’t hear much of. Kenyan Riders Downunder is the professional racing arm of a greater encompassing social enterprise that is developing the sport of cycling at the grassroots and with the youth of Kenya. This is the Kenyan Riders (sans Downunder) project. 

While one of the key roles of the Kenyan Riders project is to spot and develop cycling talent, it’s a positive force in the communities of Kenya in which it is currently embedded.

Kenya is blessed with an incredible pool of athletes. Groomed from youth, they are uniquely suited to become the best cyclists in the world. Kenyan Riders is a pioneering elite bicycle race team. We have created a camp in Iten modeled after the running camps in the area that are the factories of global distance running dominance. 

One of the most important aspects of the project is introducing the sport of cycling to Kenya. We organize bicycle races to encourage the greater use of the bicycle so that more children, who live further away, can attend school. They are also a means to identify talented children and award them cycling scholarships. Aid is not a relationship of equals.

Kenyan Riders is an enterprise that drives economic change and social good through cycling. For starters, we create employment for our cyclists and staff. We fully engage the community, and use local resources all the time. We hire local metalworkers to make and maintain bicycles. We engage carpenters to make workbenches, massage tables and all other furniture. We have also hired an English language teacher to conduct classes for cyclists who never had a chance at an education. We are fully engaged in the local community as productive and contributing citizens… the farmer, the milkman, the taxi driver, etc.

Ciarán Fitzpatrick is East African Coach and is in charge of operations of the Kenyan Riders project. He’s our guest blogger for this edition and he takes us on a tour of what happens in Kenya.

Take it away, Ciarán

With the current resources, the Kenyan Riders project has three foci:

  • Black mamba races
  • Youth programs in Iten and Nakuru
  • Scholarships

Black Mamba Races

Each month we organize a Black Mamba race with the venue alternating between Iten and Nakuru. We hope to add Bungoma as a venue for the June edition.  The Black Mamba is the most common bike in Kenya and it’s known as a Roadster or Cruiser outside Kenya. It’s heavy, awkward and not the most comfortable bike in the world. However, as it’s the most accessible bike around, it makes sense to use it for our races. 

These races serve as a way for us to identify new talent. If someone asks to be in the team, we can tell him to prove himself first on the road. They are also useful to gauge the form of the riders, and successful competitors can also use them to earn an income. 

So far, all of our races have been climbing races. Josphat Githambo of our Iten team and scholarship programme has been the most impressive so far with 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishes overall topping the under 23 category each time. 

A school camp training session. Photo by Ciarán Fitzpatrick.

A school camp training session. Photo by Ciarán Fitzpatrick.

Nakuru coach, Simon Ketoti and former Kenyan Rider Ismail Chelanga have been the top seniors. John Kariuki and Stephen Miano of our Nakuru team lead the way among the under 20s. 

Iten

In Iten and the surrounding areas we have a small group of secondary school students and one young full time cyclist.  From this group I choose four to represent Kenyan Riders, Iten at local road races in Kenya.  Our most recent team consisted of Salim Kipkemboi, 17 years; Josphat Githambo, 21 years; Andrew Kimutai, 19 years, and Kelvin Kipngetich 19 years.  Salim led the team home in 2nd behind the experienced David Kinjah of Safari Simbaz. 

The students have just returned to school after a four week break. The school holiday gave us a good chance to get in some hard training that is difficult to schedule while they are in school.  

They raced twice while the tougher sessions consisted of mountain bike criterium, hill reps (repetitions), time trial, long rides and weight sessions.  While the others have returned to school Salim has travelled to Morocco with the national team for a four day tour.

Nakuru

Simon Ketoti runs the Nakuru branch of our project where he has a large group of teenagers training with him. He uses our regular Black Mamba Races as trials for the local races where he also selects a team of four cyclists. Ketoti is still a cyclist and was part of the Kenyan Riders team for a number of years before stepping into coaching.  

The Nakuru team after a black mamba race. Photo by Ciarán Fitzpatrick.

The Nakuru team after a black mamba race. Photo by Ciarán Fitzpatrick.

Scholarships

The most gifted of our young cyclists receive scholarships to assist them to continue their education while pursuing their cycling dreams. The first recipient of our scholarships was Josphat Githambo. Josphat is a younger brother to Joseph Gichora of the Kenyan Riders Downunder team and first came to us in 2013 having left school. Towards the end of the year he admitted that he wanted to go back to school. Having shown us enough in his short stay with the team, we decided he had earned some support. 

Despite the huge demands Kenyan education places on his time (morning training sessions can last only 40 minutes while afternoon sessions are 90 minutes three times a week), Josphat has continued to improve and finished a very impressive third position in last year’s Tour de Machakos, Kenya’s biggest race. 

Through our holiday camps in 2014, we also found Andrew Kimutai. Andrew was training very lightly but still managed to keep up with our seniors in certain sessions. We figured he could progress a lot with a bit more focus and guidance so we enrolled him and Josphat in St Paul’s Secondary School Kapkessum. In his second year of serious training, Andrew is showing signs that he can follow his Kenyan teammates into professional cycling.

In Nakuru, Ketoti has identified Kevin Mwangi, Stephen Miano, Geoffrey Waire and Luka Kinyua for the scholarship programme. Mwangi and Miano are regularly to the fore in our Black Mamba races while Waire and Kinyua are much younger but still making an impact.

Credits

Thanks to Ciarán Fitzpatrick for his account of the Kenyan Riders project. And to Nicholas Leong for his input. Photos by Simon Blake and Ciarán Fitzpatrick.

KRD almost touches the Javan sky

KRD almost touches the Javan sky

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 crowned King of the Mountain. Image courtesy of Mokhriz Aziz

Jason Christie crowned King of the Mountain. Image courtesy of Mokhriz Aziz

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.

Jason Christie wins stage 3. Image courtesy of Mokhriz Aziz

Jason Christie wins stage 3. Image courtesy of Mokhriz Aziz

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."

Suleiman Kangangi working really hard for his top 10 GC result. Image courtesy of Mokhriz Aziz

Suleiman Kangangi working really hard for his top 10 GC result. Image courtesy of Mokhriz Aziz

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.

A light-hearted pre-race moment; racing turtles on the beach. Image by Simon Blake.

A light-hearted pre-race moment; racing turtles on the beach. Image by Simon Blake.

All the results

Credits

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.

Elliott delivers first podium finish in Australia

Elliott delivers first podium finish in Australia

Nathan Elliott is in a state of ambivalence over Saturday’s (May 7, 2016) Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic. On the one hand, he’s happy about doing better than his bronze medal of 2013. On the other hand, he’s really disappointed that he didn’t win the race - he really, really wanted to win.

Pat Lane of Avanti Isowhey pips KRD's Nathan Elliott to the post. Image courtesy of The Inverell Times

Pat Lane of Avanti Isowhey pips KRD's Nathan Elliott to the post. Image courtesy of The Inverell Times

KRD’s Director of Sport, Garry Elliott, observed that this was a tactical race.

And here’s Garry's potted account of what happened.

“The race started fast and a small group of 12 riders broke away with Nathan Elliott and Nick Miller. Sam (Samwel Ekiru) and Ayub (Ayub Kathurima) rode the first climb in which the bunch splintered into many small groups. Ayub made the front group while Sam made the second group up the climb.
 
“During the race Nathan was having issues with his gears, so we decided to do a bike change, where he had to chase back onto the break. Glad we had that extra bike all set up for him.
 
“The break away with Nathan slowly got smaller as there were a few attacks which unsettled a few riders. With 50 km to go, Nathan came back to the team car and said that the Avanti team didn’t want to work [with him] as they had riders trying to bridge the gap. I told him to attack the break. He did this and had an immediate result. Nathan went forward from the break with only one Avanti rider with him. 
 
“The team director for Avanti instructed Pat Lane, who is a close friend of Nathan, to sit on, and not to work with Nathan because they were hoping that their other rider, Pat Shaw (team captain), would bridge across. I then told Nathan to commit to the race. He did this and rode the front with 20 km to go. Pat Shaw attacked Nathan up the last climb but Nathan managed to get back on.
 
“With 5 km to go, Pat Shaw was less than 30 seconds behind so Nathan had to race for the line where Pat Lane out sprinted him for the line.”

This was indeed a “great cat and mouse [game] by two committed riders”, as eloquently described by KRD coach, Peter Richards. 

KRD was dogged by equipment problems. Nick Miller’s gear cable became jammed around the 150 km mark, and he was restricted to a couple of gears in his rear cassette, and consequently had to drop back. Nick was a real trooper and pushed-on to finish in 40th place. Nathan’s bike also developed gear problems, but fortunately, the team had prepared a spare bike for him.

The 2016 Grafton to Inverell is KRD’s first podium finish in Australia - quite an achievement for a team that’s not even 5 months old. This was also the first race for Sam and Ayub, a race which Garry describes as the “deep end of the pool”, and both men acquitted themselves admirably.

And here’s more info about how KRD performed.

Individual

Team Classification

Kenyan Riders Downunder - 4th (of 13 teams) +11:21

And the complete race results.

The 2016 Grafton to Inverell Cycle Classic is part of the 2016 Subaru National Road Series organized by Cycling Australia.

Credits

Banner image: The Macintyre River as it flows through Inverell, NSW. Courtesy of Wikipedia

In-article image: Courtesy of The Inverell Times

KRD take on Mt Baw Baw

KRD take on Mt Baw Baw

No cigar yet but, as a team, KRD shone at the Baw Baw Classic on Sunday April 10. Two of our guys finished in the top 10! First, here are the key results.

Riding for KRD:

  • Suleiman Kangangi - 7th +4:55
  • Geoffrey Langat - 8th +5:30
  • Samwel Mwangi - 11th +7:31
  • Joseph Gichora Kamau - 14th +8:03
  • Nathan Elliott - dnf

Nathan Elliott was in the lead pack when his chain snapped 70 km into the 104 km forcing him out of the race.

Everybody's hurtin'. Image by Simon Blake

Everybody's hurtin'. Image by Simon Blake

 

The rules of the Baw Baw Classic allow only 5 riders per team but allow other team members to ride as independents.

So just back from a few weeks in Asia, Nick Miller and Morgan Smith rode as independents.

  • Nick Miller - 29th +23:56
  • Morgan Smith - 40th +37:50

Our guys are hungry for a podium finish but it was not to be this time.

This is about the right juncture to highlight the significance of the Baw Baw Classic.

“The Baw Baw climb is 6km from the gatehouse to the summit with an elevation gain of 680m.  This means that the average gradient is 11.3% for the whole climb (680/6000 x 100).

“As a comparison, L’Alpe d’Huez, the most famous climb in the Tour de France is 13.8km at 7.9%. The Col du Tourmalet is 18.3km at 7.7% and the Col de la Madelaine is 19.4km at 7.7%.

“Last year’s Tour of Spain (2009) had a climb up L’Angliru which was billed as the toughest climb in the world (details here).  It is 13km at an average of 9.6% with the last 6 km averaging 13%.”

From the Baw Baw Classic Course Information.

Some cycling commentators regard the Baw Baw classic as the "only Hors Catégorie climb in Australia".

Sports Director, Garry Elliott is happy with the outcome, and this race as a learning opportunity - an opportunity to develop specific skills in our cyclists.

"The race was a good race for me to see how the guys are riding as a team, I was happy that we had two riders Nick Miller and Nathan Elliott in the breakaway. The Kenyans then just had to follow as the Pats veg team had to chase the breakaway. 

"We had a little bad luck with Nathans bike braking a chain and then Nick getting isolated. It was then up to the Kenyan boys to climb solid and put the pressure on the climb. They did this 100% and held their own to get the finishes they deserve. In bike races you need a little luck, I understand the Kenyans wanted to be in the break but this isn’t always possible. It is a team sport and they rode well as a team.

"Aggression also plays a huge factor at this high level of racing, some of the Kenyans are a little shy and need to believe they deserve to be there. Once they realize this then they will dictate the race and how the race will pan out for them.

"With Peter Richards there our new coach it was good for us to work on their strengths and weakness, Power is a big factor in short bursts which they will need to work on and also increasing their pedal cadence while climbing. Once we get this down then they will be the best climbers in the world.

"Overall for the team, we were the strongest there at Baw Baw, just a little bad luck plagued our results."

Kenyan cyclist, Suleiman Kangangi said, thoughtfully, that the outcome was good for the team as whole.

New coach, Peter Richards. Image by Simon Blake.

New coach, Peter Richards. Image by Simon Blake.

I’ve been reflecting on the Victorian Racing Series (VRS) 2016. This is a series of 10 monthly races organized by Cycling Victoria and sponsored by Singapore Airlines. VRS races provide a platform for young teams like KRD to fine tune their racing skills, test strategies and tactics. Our Kenyan riders, in particular, have learned so much from their participation in VRS events.

Just last week Melbourne won the SportBusiness Ultimate Sport City at 10 Anniversary Award in Switzerland. When we think of sport and Melbourne, mega events like the Australian Open, the Australian Grand Prix, and the Bells Beach Surfing Classic come to mind. But the culture of sport is really part of Melbourne’s DNA at all levels. It’s the VRS and the club-level the criteriums which take place across the city most weekends that help us understand why Melbourne so richly deserves that award.

So what’s next? KRD hard at work preparing to race in Indonesia - the Tour de Ijen and the Tour de Flores. NZ Road Champion, Jason Christie will be leading Joseph Gichora Kamau, Suleiman Kangangi, Geoffrey Langat, and Samwel Mwangi in our Indonesian campaign.

Finally, we’d like to welcome our new coach, Peter Richards, and another 2 Kenyan riders to Melbourne - Samwel Ekiru and Ayub Kathurima.

Jason Christie wins NZ GrapeRide - again

Jason Christie wins NZ GrapeRide - again

Jason Christie returned from Asia just in time to successfully defend his title at the Forrest GrapeRide in Marlborough, New Zealand om Saturday, April 2. The runner up was 2 min 30 sec behind Jason. Here’s the article about Jase’s ride in the Marlborough Express.

Suleiman took out 2nd place in last Sunday’s (April 3) Sunbury Criterium that was held at Essendon Fields - right next to Melbourne’s Essendon Airport. And Geoffrey Langat came in a very respectable 4th.

KRD will be fielding 5 person team to this year’s Baw Baw Classic: Nathan Elliott, Gichora Kamau, Suleiman Kangangi and Geoffrey Langat. Morgan Smith and Nick Miller will be competing as independents. 

Into the mist we go. Photo by Simon Blake

Into the mist we go. Photo by Simon Blake

Simon Blake and the Kenyans went on a reconnaissance mission on Wednesday so they could familiarize themselves with the route. And what a day to go reconnoitering - the weather was dreadful - cold and wet.

We wish the Baw Baw 5, Morgan and Nick all the best for Sunday. Go conquer that mountain!

Videos and photo by Simon Blake. Many thanks Simon.

Moving on up: KRD keep improving

Moving on up: KRD keep improving

Our Kenyan lads have been improving by leaps and bounds. They’ve been testing hypotheses and getting closer to a podium finish with each Victoria Racing Series (VRS) event. Here’s a snapshot of the last two VRS races.

The real action takes place during stage 3 of the tour of East Gippsland (February 28, 2016). Our man Suleiman Kangangi joined the 3 man breakaway about 10 km into the stage. One of those three was Paul van der Ploeg - the 2013 XCE Eliminator world champion and 2013 Australia Cyclo-cross champion.

The break stayed ahead of the peloton till 900 m before the finish line. In a post-race interview on Youtube, Sean Lake of Avanti Isowhey said that the peloton was cranking out a massive 450 watts before they managed to overtake the break.

Suleiman finished that stage in 38th place.

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The next big race for KRD was the Tour of Mansfield, also by VRS.

Here’s the report about stage 3 (March 20, 2016) from Simon Blake, KRD’s Assistant Director of Sport.

Joseph Gichora was up the front of the bunch covering any moves just in case for KRD.
With 10 km to the start of the climb everybody wanted to be at the front resulting in a very fast pace to the ticket box.

At the base of climb more attacks and surging.

KRD wanted a steady high pace so with 8 km to go, Geoffery Langat went to the front of the peloton, the high pace dropped lots of cyclists. With 3 km to go Suleiman stepped up the pace again and got a gap of 300m from the remaining cyclists only to be caught under 500m to the summit.

A great aggressive ride from the team and a chance well worth taking.

Suleiman 8th in the stage. The rest of the guys played out their roles in the team very well to get Suleiman as high up as possible.

Getting noticed and holding their own!

The guys also dedicated this ride to Cycle for Humanity fund raiser - Working together to get bikes to East Africa!

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The lads are training hard and getting psyched up for this year's Baw Baw Classic on April 10. KRD are fielding a team of 5 comprising Nathan Elliott, Gichora Kamau, Geoffrey Langat, Samwel Mwangi and Suleiman Kangangi (in alphabetical order). The Baw Baw Classic is 103 km long with a really mean climb up to the Mount Baw Baw Alpine Resort for the last 6.43 km. The destination altitude is around 1400 m. The course profile shows just how nasty the gradient of the final leg is. One thing’s for certain - everyone is gonna be really hurtin’ when they get to the top. 

Morgan Smith and Nick Miller will be competing as individuals this time.

Will KRD get a podium finish? 

We are barracking for you, KRD!

p.s. KRD feature in Victoria Cycling news.

Video and photos by Simon Blake

The supposedly quiet week that was

The supposedly quiet week that was

Last week was meant to be one of quiet preparation. Half the team was to go race in the Tour of Sarawak (more of that later) and the other half to the Tour of Mansfield (in Victoria, Australia) this week.

So it was supposed to be a week honing skills at local races like the weekly Sandown criterium.

And participating the Coburg Cycling Club criterium on Saturday March 12.

At least, that was the plan.

But life has a way of throwing curve balls (yes, I’m mixing metaphors here - mea culpa).

Gichora took a tumble at the Coburg criterium and got to experience an ER in a Melbourne hospital first hand. Fortunately, he did not suffer serious injuries and he’s about to head for the hills (pun intended) - the Tour of Mansfield. Video footage showed that the pile up wasn’t his fault. 

Image courtesy of Stewart Crowley

Image courtesy of Stewart Crowley

In a weird twist of events, the organizers of the Tour of Sarawak did a no show at their race even though teams had flown into Miri from various parts of the planet. The tour was canceled without any explanation. Our riders were very disappointed, and understandably so.

Morgan Smith tweeted, “I just want to race my bike! @ProDownunder @TourOfSarawak Thanks for wasting everyone's time and money. #GC

According to a Borneo Post article, it appears that the Malaysian government is trying to calm the waters with the announcement that the Malaysian National Cycling Federation would defray the transportation costs of participating teams.

Drama aside, our Kenyan lads have moved into the team house in Mernda (a suburb north east of Melbourne). A big thank you to our friends and supporters who’ve donated furniture and appliances. 

KRD Team House: The lounge room

KRD Team House: The lounge room

Kenyan Riders Downunder are helping to raise funds for Bicycles for Humanity via the Cycle for Humanity 2016 campaign at the Tour of Mansfield this weekend. Bicycles for Humanity is an Australian NGO that helps alleviate poverty in developing economies by giving people bicycles, and providing these communities with the facilities and training to maintain bicycles.

Image courtesy of cycle4humanity.com

Image courtesy of cycle4humanity.com

Support a good cause through your favorite Kenyan cyclist(s). Click on one or more of the links below and donate to Cycle for Humanity 2016.

p.s. With a little luck, we’ll have some GoPro footage of the Tour of Mansfield next week.

Video by Simon Blake

A very busy week and a half

A very busy week and a half

The last 10 days or so have been a really busy time for us. Busy and rewarding. Our guys returned from the 2016 Oceania Road Championships which was held in Bendigo, the gold rush city of Victoria, Australia with a swag of really good results.

Nick Miller trying to take the lead at Oceania 2016. Image courtesy of PDitty Images.

Nick Miller trying to take the lead at Oceania 2016. Image courtesy of PDitty Images.

"The attacks kept coming and with only 70km raced it was clear that everyone was already feeling it from the heat and guys were looking tired. A small move including Pat Shaw, Sean Lake (Avanti) and Lachie Norris (Drapac) ended up getting up the road and with that looking dangerous I bridged across with Cyrus Monk(Pats Veg) and a few others sitting on that had team mates up the road. At about 100km in, this put around ten of us at the front of the race but with no one too keen to drive it, eventually a few others came across including some of my team mates."

That's an excerpt from Nathan Elliott's account of his experience of Oceania 2016 told in his inimitable style. And here's the rest of his post.

Here's how we performed.

Individual Time Trial (ITT)

  • Morgan Smith - 6th, +2:30.6
  • Nathan Elliott - 9th, +2:58.1

Road Race

  • Jason Christie - 8th, +3:12
  • Morgan Smith - 10th, +3:15
  • Nick Miller - 13th, +7:22
  • Nathan Elliott - 16th, +9:36

Kenyan Riders Downunder - 7th, 267 points

All the 2016 Oceania Road Championships results.

Congrats, chaps, on a job well done!

Meanwhile back in Melbourne, Suleiman Kangangi took out 2nd spot in a criterium organized by the Coburg Cycling Club last Saturday. And Joseph Gichora Kamau picked up a points prize.

Suleiman Kangangi, runner up at the Coburg Cycling Club's criterium.

Suleiman Kangangi, runner up at the Coburg Cycling Club's criterium.

Last but not least, team manager, Stewart Crowley has been helping our Kenyan riders with the finer points of track cycling at the DISC velodrome in Thornbury (a suburb of Melbourne) most Tuesdays. 

Thanks to PDitty Images for the photo at the top of this post and to Simon Blake for the video. Lovely bookends, don't you think?

Getting hammered

Getting hammered

In the 10,000m at the Tokyo Olympics, famous for the American Billy Mills' unexpected victory, an almost insignificant thing happened which would be unimaginable decades later. Look at the race 2m35s into this video.

For a brief second, we see the front runners, Billy Mills and Ron Clarke, lap what appears to be a black man. This man turns out to be Naftali Temu, and he was a Kenyan. 4 years later, in Mexico City, he became Kenya's first Olympic gold medalist.

Think about it for a minute. There was a time when Kenyans got absolutely hammered at LONG DISTANCE running. And damn! How is that possible? It turns out that no one turns up and sweeps the podium. No matter how talented or gifted, even the best need to pay their dues.

Suleiman, showing we belong.

Suleiman, showing we belong.

Kenyans first went to the Olympics in 1956, and it took them 12 years of losing before they turned up at Mexico City in 1968, and absolutely lit the track up. The world remembers the hero of Mexico, Kipchoge Keino, and rightly so. What we forget is the decade of anonymous suffering on cruel tracks around the world as others basked in their moment in the sun.

Today, Kenyan Riders Downunder are in Australia, learning the craft of racing in quiet races where the only people who turn up are family and friends. Jousting with Aussies, and getting hammered sometimes, is precisely where we want to be now.

Yesterday, in the Tour of East Gippsland, our man Suleiman Kangangi, ably helped earlier by our Aussie team mates, Brad Soden and Liam Hill, stayed away in a 3-man breakaway for 107.2km of a 108km race. For us, it was a victory. To show that we belong in a race with men who choose to take it by the scruff of its neck.

As Suleiman told me, 'The likes of Gichora when they see me do such a thing they will be brave also to try from far when necessary. I keep telling them we have to be brave but it starts with me ... and bravery pays in cycling.' We are here to pay our dues on the quiet roads of Australia. Because we know how our running brothers did it.