It has been a whirlwind week for Taiwan s reigning U23 National Road Cycling Champion. Shortly after Attaque Team Gusto s 2016 launch in Shanghai was wrapped up, Lu Shao Hsuan was on a plane to Australia where he will race for the first time.
In pro cycling parlance the neutral zone is a short section of road traversed by the peloton before racing officially gets underway. It offers a brief moment for riders to casually chat and that is the spirit of the Neutral Zone here. All words are the rider s own, though Cycling iQ has lent spelling and grammatical support where needed.
Images: Attaque Team Gusto
Cycling in Taiwan as a sport is still new, however it has grown very fast. We see the crowds at the Tour de Taiwan each year getting bigger and bigger. The culture of cycling in Taiwan is growing and I am excited to be a part of it. The culture between somewhere like Japan compared to Taiwan is very similar, however the Japanese culture is more developed. Japan has a rich history in cycling, especially on the track; local supporters are very knowledgeable about the sport.
I started racing in 2008; I am the only one in my family that races. I have always been interested in cycling because my father is a fan of cycling. He taught me what I know today.
In 2013, I was approached by Team Gusto to join the squad [Lu was racing for a local team at the time]. Each year I have improved and hope that I can improve more with this new structure.
On average, I will train about 21 hours per week. Of course this changes with my racing schedule. When I am building endurance it is much more but, on average, I will spend about 21 hours each week on my bike. I do a lot of my riding by myself. My coach sets me very specific training goals, so I find it much easier to achieve these while riding by myself.
Personal sacrifice is something every cyclist faces. It s a challenge for everyone. Your friends go out to the party, but you must go to bed because you have six hours the next day. Also, I must watch what I eat. Your body is an engine; if you put the wrong fuel in it, it will not work at its best. As an elite cyclist, you must always eat healthy to ensure you can be your best. However, a little treat every now and then is always welcome.
I do a lot of my training in and around Tai Chung. I love riding here. The roads are quiet and there are many mountains to choose from. The view from the top is always worth the pain to get there. If you ever get the chance to visit Taiwan, you must make sure you get to Tai Chung. It is well worth it!
The National Championships was a difficult race. It was only a small peloton, so there was nowhere to hide. The tempo was good on the first lap but, on the second lap, I attacked on the climb. Kai had attacked just before me and had a gap. When I attacked, one other rider came with me my friend Shi Ming Lui. For the rest of the race we chased Kai, but he was too strong. We rode hard together and decided we would sprint for second place. Lucky for me I was a little faster and beat Ming into second place. This also meant that I won the U23 National Championship: a very proud moment in my life.
For this season, I want to improve my cycling as much as possible. I have a new coach, so hopefully this will show in my results. I want to play my role in the team the best I can. We have a lot of experienced riders, who I hope to learn from.
I am looking forward to my first trip to Australia. I will be racing both the Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and the Jayco Herald Sun Tour. I may also race some of the National Road Series if my calendar permits. I have seen guys like Richie Porte and Jack Bobridge come from the NRS, so I look highly towards the racing there. I m sure it is going to be hard! The team will also travel to Italy in August, so I am looking forward to racing in Europe and gaining valuable experience whilst there.
I love watching the classics such as Milan-San Remo. It is a dream of mine to hopefully one day race this race. With the help of the internet, it is quite easy to watch races live. Am I a fan? I don t know. I would rather be racing myself than watching on television!
Joaquim Rodriguez is someone I admire. I love the way he races. So aggressive, but also so cool. He has a lot of flair and always races to win. I also like to race this way. If I could be half as good as Rodriguez, I would be so happy!
I think Cheung King Lok from Hong Kong will be the next superstar from Asia. He is so strong and he proved that last week, after winning both the TT and Road Race last week at the Asian Cycling Championships. I think it is only time before he is racing in Europe.
Stability of teams at all levels is something I would like to change. We are so dependent on the support of our excellent sponsors, however having the security of a long-term team franchise would definitely help them invest in the development of junior riders. It would also help the team invest more time into developing cycling regions such as Asia. I know there are people in our sport who share this view, so hopefully we can see some change in the future.
It is good to escape from cycling sometimes. It is a very demanding sport and takes much of my time, so it is nice to focus on something else and have fun doing it. I do love my computer games. League of Legends is my favourite at the moment. Reading books also provides me with a great escape. I travel a lot so I have plenty of time to read.
I am in my last year of college, studying Sports Psychology at NTUPES in Taiwan. I am interested in Sports Psychology as it is an important part of every athletes success and I plan to work in this field after I finish cycling.