Introduction to the cobbles: Chinese riders ride on cobblestone streets for the first time

China Glory Cycling has arrived in The Netherlands to continue the racing season on European soil, and the Chinese riders are experiencing different roads and surfaces. Etienne van Empel and Reinier Honig, the two Dutch riders on the team, showed the Chinese riders the cobbles.

It was the first time for the Chinese riders to race on cobblestones. “When they understood that some of the races that the team will be doing are with cobbled sections, they asked me to show them around. They wanted to know how it is to race on those kinds of surfaces,” Van Empel said.

While the team was riding in Limburg, Van Empel suggested trying out the Maasberg. The Maasberg is a 750 meter climb, 3.7% percent average, and – of course – covered with cobblestones.

Van Empel was impressed by the Chinese riders. “For a first time, they took it on very well,” he said after the ride in Limburg. “The difficulty of the terrain did not really impress them, and they learned quickly by practice.”

Van Empel gave some feedback to the Chinese, but said he did not have to teach them too much. Meanwhile, the Chinese sports director and manager Han Feng, who is also in The Netherlands to support the cyclists, emphasized the importance of practising on these different surfaces. “If we have to race on cobbles, we better make sure that we are prepared,” he said.

He concluded it was a good test, and that the exercise will help his pupils for the races ahead. “Riding on cobbles requires a different style of racing. Having this experience in the backpack is useful.”

The month of May is the start of a busy program for the Chinese team. The next races for China Glory Cycling are the Maarten Wynants Trofee, the Ruddervoorde Koers, and the Puivelde Koers – all in Belgium.