The Ronde de l’Oise, starting Thursday, is a race to China Glory Cycling’s liking. Each of the four stages is hilly, but without a mountaintop finish. The competition is not as high as in the Mercan’Tour Classic, but more comparable with the level of racing in the Tour of Turkey, which turned out to be a successful race for the Chinese team.
Sean Bennett returned to racing in the Mercan’Tour Classic earlier this week, after a break of six weeks after the Tour of Turkey. The American cyclist rounded off the French one-day race with a 29th position. He will be CGS’ main man to watch in the four-day stage race in France.
Lucas de Rossi also finished the Mercan’Tour Classic, and returned to France after three weeks of altitude training. He did not feel super earlier this week, however, the French cyclist expects to feel the results of his training camp during the Ronde de l’Oise. “I am looking forward to racing in my home country,” he says. “The Mercan’Tour Classic really felt like my home race, but also this is going to be a nice one.”
Unfortunately, none of the Chinese riders finished the Mercan’Tour Classic, largely due to the high pace set by WorldTour teams at the beginning of the race. All of them hoped to finish but did realize they still have a lot to learn.
Changquan Xu said after the one-day race that it was a great platform for another meaningful learning experience. Before the race he posed together with his Chinese teammates and four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome, knowing it would be a big challenge to be competitive.
Xianjing Lv said that he hoped to be in the breakaway in the Mercan’Tour Classic, however, he quickly realized that with the way the race unfolded, it was a very big challenge. He hopes to get new chances in the Ronde de l’Oise.
Lastly, Nazaerbieke Bieken sees the Ronde de l’Oise as another opportunity to develop. “I can feel that I am improving every week, and the races we are doing lately contribute to my development. The Mercan’Tour Classic was the first time that I competed in a big climbing race. I hope it was a good warm-up for what is yet to come this week.”
According to Dutch rider Reinier Honig, every day can be a good chance to be in the breakaway and show China Glory Cycling’s colours. Etienne van Empel will alson be looking forward to some aggressive racing.
The Ronde de l’Oise starts Thursday and finishes Sunday.