2007 Tour de Korea champion and multiple stage winner Sung Baek Park (KSPO) returned to his former glory in style today; taking a decisive stage victory in Yeongju and slipping into the yellow jersey by a lean three seconds over Optum’s Alexander Candelario. Chan Jae Jang, keeper of the leader’s jersey since stage three, now seems to have faded out of contention, after finishing almost two minutes adrift of KSPO’s charismatic star.
IMAGES: Aaron Lee
Park dominated the Tour de Korea in its first year as an accredited UCI stage race, in 2007. Since that year, the 27-year-old Terengganu Cycling Team rider has racked up an impressive record of placings in major UCI races throughout Japan, Thailand and Taiwan; whilst also immersing himself in European racing, via a stint with the now-defunct EQA-Meitan Hompo-Graphite Design team during 2009.
Park’s victory came as welcome relief to race organizer, KSPO; after yesterday’s incident-plagued stage, KSPO was at pains to take all measures necessary to ensure the safe passage of 109 starters along the rolling 164-kilometer course. As a result, only six motorbikes – comprising four marshals, the official photographer and official videographer – were permitted to operate within the peloton’s boundaries. Combined with a heightened awareness and caution amongst the convoy, riders cautiously opened up to the race ahead.
None of the several breakaways that ensued within the first 30 minutes of racing stayed away, which meant a full peloton approached the first intermediate sprint at 23.4km. Nine riders, including three from KSPO, pulled ahead of the bunch to fight it out, with Team Nippo’s Maximiliano Richeze easing his way past Cheung Gyo Jeong (Geumsan Ginseng Cello), Ki Ju Lee (KSPO) and Rodriges Arguelyes (Rusvelo) to take maximum points. Somewhat unusually, blue jersey-wearer Sun Jae Jan (Korean National Team) looked off his game, finishing fifth.
Moving off the wide freeway and onto quieter roads bordering the impressive Nakdan Reservoir, riders continued to benefit from a moderate tailwind, which pushed the bunch along at an average speed close to 45kph. Approaching the solitary categorized ascent at 94.7km, a group of 22 men – the merger of three separate breaks that had individually split from the peloton over the previous 50 kilometers – had stabilized their declining lead over the main field at 30”.
This leading group of Ki Hong Yoo, Hyo Suk Gong, Hyeong Min Choe (all Geumsan Ginseng Cello), Ji Min Jung, Soon Yeong Kwon (both KSPO), Thomas Soladay, Michael Friedman (both Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies), Mauro Richeze, Junya Sano (both Team Nippo), Richard Lang, Richard Handley, Michael Cuming, Dean Downing (all Rapha Condor-Sharp), Lee Rodgers (RTS), Peter Latham (Subway), Ying Hon Yeung (Hong Kong National Team), Kinsan Wu (Champion System Pro Cycling Team), Valery Valynin (Rusvelo), Tom Robinson (Genesys Wealth Advisers), Denys Karnulin (ISD-Lampre), Ricardo van der Velde (Jelly Belly Cycling) and Kyung Gu Jang (Arbö Gebrüder Weiss-Oberndorfer) rumbled through the feed zone and shed almost 25% of its numbers on the 1.2km ascent to 260m.
Choe bested Karnulin, Gong and Jang, respectively, over the summit and continued to assert his power by pulling away from his peers along the slightly downhill valley floor. Winner of the ITT at Guangzhou’s 2010 Asian Games, 22-year-old Choe had his work cut out to sustain his effort in the changeable cross winds. However, his limits were revealed when another large group of more than 20 riders bridged to his wheel.
While the main field behind continued to recover from a two-minute deficit, veteran Tour de France stage-winner Jaan Kirsipuu (Champion System Pro Cycling Team) was amongst a selection of seven riders that broke free of the Choe leading group. Joining Kirsipuu were Friedman, Gong, Lang, King Wai Cheung (Hong Kong National Team), Westley Gough (Subway Cycling Team) and Joon Yong Seo (Seoul Cycling Team). Sadly, the sight of Kirsipuu in a final dash to the line was not to be, as the peloton swept up all leaders on the road in time for the second and final intermediate sprint at 140.6km. Richeze appeared to pull through effortlessly again, thus building sufficient points to claim the blue points jersey.
The intermediate dash provided the seed for the day’s final breakaway, which contained Park, Seo, Choi, Cheung, Friedman, Gong, Maximiliano Richeze, Downing, Jesse Anthony (Optum), Jai Crawford (RTS Racing), Gharehbaghipouri (Uzbekistan Suren Team), Aaron Kemps (Champion System Pro Cycling Team), Khatuntsev (Rusvelo), Aldo Ilesic (Team Type 1 – Sanofi), Salehian (Azad University Cross Team), Anatoliy Pakhtusov (ISD), Kyung Gu Jang and Jakub Kratochvila (both Arbö Gebrüder Weiss-Orbendorfer).
With 25 kilometers to go, and with three chasing groups closing from behind, Jang and Park jumped away in what first appeared to be a naïve act of brinkmanship. Remarkably, the pair’s lead grew to more than 30” and remained there to within five kilometers of the finish line. Tantalizingly, with its multiple sweeping bends and rises, the final two kilometers would conceal a break with such a lead from its chasers.
Jang gritted his teeth for a final long pull at the front, while his compatriot held his wheel. At 500m, Park looked back, quickly analyzed the situation and attacked. Having spent his best effort on the road earlier, Jang tried admirably to stay with Park to no avail; the national 4,000m team pursuit track cyclist from KSPO had calculated his reserves brilliantly. Park soared home 3” ahead of Jang and 13” ahead of the main bunch; led over the line by Korean National Team’s Keon Woo Park; a reassuring one, two, three for Korea’s biggest professional road cycling race.
Sung Baek Park, KSPO – yellow jersey
“Yeongsu is my team’s home town, so I know the course. In the final two kilometres, I knew that I could win. I looked back and I could see the gap was too big; it looked like 30 or 40 seconds. In the final 500 metres, I thanked Kyung Gu; I was on his wheel until that point. This was the first time we’ve sprinted against each other in Tour de Korea. Normally, we would be in the peloton at the finish.
I won the overall classification in 2007. I hope to do the same again this year. Chan Jae (Jang) is a very strong guy, but I’m not sure if he can regain his lead. I will try my best tomorrow. I would like to concentrate on the European races; strong guys, at the top of their game, race them. There are also more chances and more teams in Europe; I would like to make contact with a big team. Three years ago, when I raced with the Meipo (EQA – Meitan Hompo – Graphite Design) team, I had the chance to improve, but the racing was too difficult for me; too chaotic, everyone pushing. But now that I’ve improved, I hope that I can get into the European ProTour; that’s the victory I most want.”
Elmar Hantzsch, Team Manager – Arbö Gebrüder Weiss-Oberndorfer
“I think Korean riders are not far behind the Japanese riders like Fumiyuku Beppu and Mizakawi Takashi. The whole Asian scene is developing really fast and Korea is, I would say, one of the leading countries next to Japan, which is a step ahead. Asian riders now have their own scene, which is developing quickly. In Germany for example we only have one one-day race at the WorldTour level (Vattenfall Cyclassics). In Asia, China is about to have two WorldTour races. I think Asia will catch up to America first and then Europe a few years later.
I met Kyung Gu Jang in the Tour de Hokkaido last year. There, he had the yellow jersey until the last stage. He lost the yellow in the last two kilometres of the ITT. I saw the race and it was pretty hard because of the mountains and the weather conditions. I thought ‘this guy must be a hard guy’. He was 21 at the time, and he almost won the race.
My team riders are telling me that he’s always riding at the front and always attacking. For example, today he was in all the front groups. I’m sure his bunch-riding skills must be awesome to get into those positions.
In Korea, cycling is developing quite well. Why shouldn’t I pick a Korea rider over a European rider? It was a good opportunity for both parties involved. Of course, language is definitely an issue. I give him small written notes, which works well, and he also shares a room with (Arbö team-mate) Seon Ho Park. His English is improving and he is talented in learning languages. It’s not a big issue, more of a challenge.
I hope they will come to Europe in May and stay until the Olympic games. Seon Ho already has his ticket for the 4,000 team pursuit and maybe we’ll go straight from the European races to London. For Kyung Gu, it depends if he will get a ticket for the Olympics. Today, he gets one step closer and I hope he will stay in Europe, because that’s where he will develop in terms of dynamics, technique and bunch behaviour; the deep professional skills that are required, basically.
Kyung Gu hasn’t yet told me his greatest strength as a rider. But maybe he can tell me later in the year when he learns a little more English! I think his dream is the Olympic Games and also riding the big races in Europe; not necessarily the Tour de France, but the high level 1.1 and 2.1 races. Our Korean riders are always reading the ProCycling magazines and they idolize the European riders in them. I think they can accomplish that level too.
Kyung Gu is definitely a great climber; that’s what I saw in Hokkaido. He’s third on general classification, only seven seconds down, and also third in KOM. He’s also motivated to keep the white jersey for the best young rider. He doesn’t need to have the aim to win the GC; we need to be realistic. First, we just want to retain what we have.
I’m sure we will have a big article in the Austrian newspapers after the Tour de Korea. It’s a nice story to read, because it’s not a normal Austrian team. We are a truly international team. I am German, the mechanic is Japanese, we have riders from Romania, Czech Republic, Austria and Korea. I think this global culture is good for our existing sponsors and for attracting new sponsors.”
UPDATE FROM STAGE FIVE
Two riders and two race personnel were involved in stage five’s motorbike incident on Thursday. Here is the latest update on their status:
Motorbike marshal & photographer
Both the driver and passenger on the motorbike were taken to hospital in Gumi immediately following the accident. It has been remarkable to hear that, after medical assessment, neither men had incurred broken bones or major internal injury. Both are recovering well, according to Tour de Korea’s representative.
Yuriy Agarkov, ISD-Lampre
After being struck from behind by the motorcycle, Agarkov was rushed to Gumi hospital with his team’s assistant manager, Olena Gerus, where it was discovered two vertebrae had fractured. He was immediately air-lifted to a major hospital in Seoul where he is to undergo surgery, according to the representative.
David McCann, RTS Racing
During the final bunch sprint at the end of stage 5, McCann clipped a barrier with his right hand, almost losing his thumb completely. According to Chief Commissaire, Dorothy Abbott, McCann’s thumb was hanging off by only a small piece of skin. He was initially treated in Gumi, but then transferred to Seoul on Friday. It is still unknown whether he will regain all or any use of his thumb. RTS’s mechanic, Daryoush Mohammadzadeh, explained there was still a risk it may not heal, and McCann may lose his thumb.
STAGE 6 RESULTS
|1||KOR||PARK SUNG BAEK||KSP||3:41:46||44.37km/hr|
|2||KOR||JANG KYUNG GU||KTM||3:41:49||00:03|
|3||KOR||PARK KEON WOO||KOR||3:41:59||00:13|
|8||HKG||KWOK HO TING||HKG||3:41:59||00:13|
|17||KOR||OH SE YONG||GGC||3:41:59||00:13|
|18||KOR||KWON SOON YEONG||KSP||3:41:59||00:13|
|19||KOR||LEE SEUNG KWON||SCT||3:41:59||00:13|
|23||SLO||ILESIC ALDO INO||TT1||3:41:59||00:13|
|26||KOR||GONG HYO SUK||GGC||3:41:59||00:13|
|27||HKG||CHOI KI HO||HKG||3:41:59||00:13|
|28||HKG||YEUNG YING HON||HKG||3:41:59||00:13|
|31||KOR||SEO JOON YONG||SCT||3:41:59||00:13|
|32||KOR||YOUM JUNG HWAN||SCT||3:41:59||00:13|
|34||HKG||CHEUNG KING LOK||HKG||3:41:59||00:13|
|37||NED||VAN DER VELDE RICARDO||JBC||3:42:19||00:33|
|39||KOR||JEONG CHEUNG GYO||GGC||3:42:19||00:33|
|45||KOR||IM JAE YEON||KOR||3:42:19||00:33|
|46||IRI||SAEIDI TANHA ABBAS||AZC||3:42:19||00:33|
|47||KOR||JANG SUN JAE||KOR||3:42:19||00:33|
|49||ARG||RICHEZE MAURO ABEL||PPO||3:43:42||01:56|
|51||KOR||CHOE HYEONG MIN||GGC||3:43:42||01:56|
|54||KOR||JANG CHAN JAE||TSG||3:43:42||01:56|
|55||KOR||YOO KI HONG||GGC||3:43:42||01:56|
|59||KOR||PARK KYOUNG HO||SCT||3:44:12||02:26|
|60||MAS||MAZUKI NUR AMIRULL FAKHRUDDIN||TSG||3:44:12||02:26|
|63||KOR||LEE KI JU||KSP||3:44:12||02:26|
|64||KOR||JUNG JI MIN||KSP||3:44:12||02:26|
|65||MAS||ABDULLAH MUHAMMAD KHAIRUL AZIZI||MAS||3:44:12||02:26|
|66||KOR||BANG JAE HYUN||GGC||3:44:12||02:26|
|69||KOR||IM CHAE BIN||KOR||3:44:12||02:26|
|70||KOR||KIM JUN BIN||SCT||3:44:12||02:26|
|72||KOR||SHIN DONG HYUN||KSP||3:44:12||02:26|
|74||MAS||MAT SENAN MOHAMMAD SAUFI||TSG||3:44:12||02:26|
|76||MAS||ZAINAL MOHD NUR RIZUAN||MAS||3:44:12||02:26|
|78||HKG||CHEUNG KING WAI||HKG||3:44:12||02:26|
|80||KOR||KANG SUNG JUN||KOR||3:44:12||02:26|
|82||KOR||KANG SUK HO||SCT||3:44:12||02:26|
|88||MAS||MISBAH MUHAMMAD RAUF NUR||MAS||3:44:12||02:26|
|95||IRI||PASBAN KHAJEH HAMED||UST||3:44:12||02:26|
|96||KOR||KIM DO HYOUNG||TSG||3:44:12||02:26|
|97||MAS||SALEH MOHD ZAMRI||TSG||3:44:12||02:26|
|101||HKG||WONG KAM PO||HKG||3:44:12||02:26|
|105||KOR||CHOI SEUNG WOO||KOR||3:44:12||02:26|
|106||KOR||PARK SEON HO||KTM||3:45:14||03:28|
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE SIX
|1||KOR||PARK SUNG BAEK||KSP||16:56:32|
|3||KOR||JANG KYUNG GU||KTM||16:56:39||00:07|
|6||KOR||PARK KEON WOO||KOR||16:56:51||00:19|
|9||KOR||SEO JOON YONG||SCT||16:56:54||00:22|
|11||HKG||KWOK HO TING||HKG||16:56:55||00:23|
|16||HKG||CHEUNG KING LOK||HKG||16:56:55||00:23|
|25||KOR||YOUM JUNG HWAN||SCT||16:56:55||00:23|
|27||KOR||GONG HYO SUK||GGC||16:56:55||00:23|
|28||KOR||OH SE YONG||GGC||16:56:55||00:23|
|29||HKG||YEUNG YING HON||HKG||16:56:55||00:23|
|30||HKG||CHOI KI HO||HKG||16:56:55||00:23|
|32||KOR||JEONG CHEUNG GYO||GGC||16:57:11||00:39|
|33||KOR||LEE SEUNG KWON||SCT||16:57:11||00:39|
|34||NED||VAN DER VELDE RICARDO||JBC||16:57:15||00:43|
|35||SLO||ILESIC ALDO INO||TT1||16:57:15||00:43|
|40||KOR||JANG CHAN JAE||TSG||16:57:53||01:21|
|41||ARG||RICHEZE MAURO ABEL||PPO||16:58:28||01:56|
|42||KOR||CHOE HYEONG MIN||GGC||16:58:38||02:06|
|45||KOR||YOO KI HONG||GGC||16:58:38||02:06|
|48||KOR||JANG SUN JAE||KOR||16:58:49||02:17|
|51||KOR||PARK KYOUNG HO||SCT||16:59:08||02:36|
|53||KOR||SHIN DONG HYUN||KSP||16:59:08||02:36|
|54||KOR||JUNG JI MIN||KSP||16:59:08||02:36|
|55||MAS||MAZUKI NUR AMIRULL FAKHRUDDIN||TSG||16:59:08||02:36|
|57||HKG||CHEUNG KING WAI||HKG||16:59:08||02:36|
|60||HKG||WONG KAM PO||HKG||16:59:08||02:36|
|62||MAS||MISBAH MUHAMMAD RAUF NUR||MAS||16:59:08||02:36|
|64||KOR||KANG SUK HO||SCT||16:59:08||02:36|
|67||MAS||MAT SENAN MOHAMMAD SAUFI||TSG||16:59:08||02:36|
|72||KOR||CHOI SEUNG WOO||KOR||16:59:08||02:36|
|78||KOR||KIM DO HYOUNG||TSG||17:07:13||10:41|
|80||KOR||KWON SOON YEONG||KSP||17:08:27||11:55|
|82||KOR||IM JAE YEON||KOR||17:08:47||12:15|
|84||KOR||KIM JUN BIN||SCT||17:10:05||13:33|
|88||IRI||SAEIDI TANHA ABBAS||AZC||17:10:14||13:42|
|89||KOR||LEE KI JU||KSP||17:10:37||14:05|
|93||IRI||PASBAN KHAJEH HAMED||UST||17:10:40||14:08|
|94||KOR||PARK SEON HO||KTM||17:11:38||15:06|
|96||KOR||KANG SUNG JUN||KOR||17:12:07||15:35|
|98||MAS||ZAINAL MOHD NUR RIZUAN||MAS||17:12:07||15:35|
|99||MAS||SALEH MOHD ZAMRI||TSG||17:12:07||15:35|
|101||KOR||IM CHAE BIN||KOR||17:12:25||15:53|
|106||MAS||ABDULLAH MUHAMMAD KHAIRUL AZIZI||MAS||17:20:03||23:31|
|107||KOR||BANG JAE HYUN||GGC||17:23:46||27:14|
YOUNG RIDER CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE SIX
|1||KOR||JANG KYUNG GU||KTM||16:56:39|
|2||KOR||PARK KEON WOO||KOR||16:56:51||00:12|
|3||HKG||CHEUNG KING LOK||HKG||16:56:55||00:16|
|5||HKG||CHOI KI HO||HKG||16:56:55||00:16|
|6||KOR||LEE SEUNG KWON||SCT||16:57:11||00:32|
|7||KOR||CHOE HYEONG MIN||GGC||16:58:38||01:59|
|9||KOR||PARK KYOUNG HO||SCT||16:59:08||02:29|
|10||KOR||SHIN DONG HYUN||KSP||16:59:08||02:29|
|11||KOR||JUNG JI MIN||KSP||16:59:08||02:29|
|12||MAS||MAZUKI NUR AMIRULL FAKHRUDDIN||TSG||16:59:08||02:29|
|16||KOR||KANG SUK HO||SCT||16:59:08||02:29|
|17||MAS||MAT SENAN MOHAMMAD SAUFI||TSG||16:59:08||02:29|
|18||KOR||KWON SOON YEONG||KSP||17:08:27||11:48|
|19||KOR||IM JAE YEON||KOR||17:08:47||12:08|
|20||KOR||KIM JUN BIN||SCT||17:10:05||13:26|
|21||KOR||LEE KI JU||KSP||17:10:37||13:58|
|22||KOR||KANG SUNG JUN||KOR||17:12:07||15:28|
|24||KOR||IM CHAE BIN||KOR||17:12:25||15:46|
|26||MAS||ABDULLAH MUHAMMAD KHAIRUL AZIZI||MAS||17:20:03||23:24|
|27||KOR||BANG JAE HYUN||GGC||17:23:46||27:07|
POINTS CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE SIX (Top 3)
1) Maximiliana Richeze (Team Nippo) 11pts
2) Sunjae Jang (Korea National Team) 10pts
3) Cheung Gyo Jeong (Geumsan Ginseng Cello) 6pts
KING OF THE MOUNTAINS CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE SIX (Top 3)
1) Sungbaek Park (KSPO) 12pts
2) Yoo Ki (Geumsan Ginseng Cello) 7pts
3) Kyung Gu Jang (Arbö Gebrüder Weiss-Oberndorfer) 5pts
TEAMS CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE SIX (Top 3)
1) Team Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies
2) Uzbekistan Suren Team
3) Seoul Cycling Team
ASIA TEAMS CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE SIX (Top 3)
1) Uzbekistan Suren Team
2) Seoul Cycling Team
3) Hong Kong National Team