Lyu makes time for reflection: 'I experienced a steep learning curve this season'

Le Tour de Langkawi is the last race of the season for the team, and also for Xianjing Lyu, who is the team leader in Malaysia. Even though the race only just started, there was already time for reflections on Lyu’s most meaningful year of racing in his career so far.

Racing in Europe resulted in an incredible adventure for the Chinese cyclist. “I’ve grown as a cyclist in many ways. Physically, I got stronger. Mentally, I can endure the races better. I learned English and nowadays I can read the race so much better than I ever could before.”

Lyu says he has become more confident in racing. “I had to adjust, because I did not race for two years due to Covid, and never raced in Europe before. What the team told me, was true: the competitions in Europe are so much different from China. I learned more and more, after each day in competition.”

“I know how to race now,” Lyu continues. “That makes me more relaxed. I panicked sometimes during races in the beginning of the season, however, nowadays I am not stressed anymore. The best example comes from the World Championships this year. I knew it would be very difficult to finish the race, so that was not so surprising to me. With the calm mindset I had, I got very far. I was happy with the result.”

Lyu has experienced it all this year in Europe: flat stages, windy days, competitions with WorldTour teams, echelons, suffering, and much more. “I am most proud of finishing the flat races. I can do that nowadays, because I have much more power in my legs than I had before. I learned how to manouvre in the peloton, position myself well when needed. These are essential skills in Europe, I learned, and for other Chinese cyclists to finish races as the Chinese cyclists did with China Glory, they will have to gain that experience as well.

“The Tour of Turkey and the Arctic Tour of Norway were crucial races for me, in that sense. I do not believe any other Chinese cyclist at this point would be able to finish the race.”

It might sound weird, but Lyu also learned to enjoy the sport more than he ever did before. “In Europe, professional cyclists are comparing themselves with how they performed before. I met cyclists who were extremely happy after just finishing a stage, as for them that would be an accomplishment. I adopted that mindset. I am improving every day myself as well, and that’s a process I’ve started to enjoy a lot.”

Lastly, the Chinese U23-cyclist has picked up a lot of English over the last months in Europe. “In the beginning, I could barely follow anything”, he says. “Race tactics, instructions from the sports director, and comments from my teammates: I understand them better now. Halfway into the season, we got an interpreter on board, and that helps as well. It is good to air some of my feelings during long periods abroad to someone who speaks the same language.”

Lyu is extremely looking forward to both going home after the Tour de Langkawi, and continuing to extend his learning curve in 2023. “With the support of the team, I believe that I can play a bigger and bigger role in races next season. I am ready to chase bigger objectives. 2023 is going to be even more exciting.”