Gallery: pro road cycling comes to Xinghua town

Before the UCI Women’s World Cup race in China last Sunday, media personnel were given two choices: 1) take the photographer’s bus, sans race radio, and stop at fixed points to take photos, or; 2) take the media car, with race radio, direct to the finish and not see the race until the end. Hmm.

Instead, Cycling iQ tracked down several Sports Directors to see if they had a spare seat in their team cars; finally bumping into GreenEDGE’s David McPartland. It turned out GreenEDGE had a spare seat, but not until the feed zone at Xinghua town; 77 kilometers into the race, and over the other side of the Shanghai Yangtze bridge. If I could get to the feed zone before the peloton, I could switch places with the team’s translator. Sold. Into the media car I went. Next stop, Xinghua town.

No UCI AsiaTour race I’ve been to has been the same, but one definite commonality exists: the all-out reckless exuberance with which a race-appointed driver will use a car’s accelerator when he knows hopes the roads are closed and the police are busy marshalling (or turning a blind eye). As most bike races average between 40-50kph, it’s not usually necessary to travel at 160kph to reach the designated point ahead – whether it’s the finish line or a photo-shoot point – to allow set-up time. This blatantly law-breaking, and frankly dangerous, dash by officials always results in long waits of an hour or more for the race to arrive and, all the while, the car is too far from a relay vehicle to be in receiving range of race radio.

And so it happened again on Sunday. “Oh no,” I thought, “it’s Bohai Town all over again.” Actually, apart from taking my bike to Chongming Island, stopping in Xinghua town was the best decision I made all week. Hundreds of locals had come out to watch the race pass by, and their enthusiasm would warm the heart of any cycling fan. Starting briefly with the opening race ceremony in Pudong, Shanghai, and ending at the packed finish line on Chongming Island, here’s a quick gallery of the friendly people of Xinghua.