Stage 2 Update: the River Ride to finish in Tongbiguan
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As announced, Yingjiang in Dehong Prefecture plays host to the 2nd stage of this year's event. A new city and thus a totally new race course. Dubbed The River Ride, the long river that crosses the town and county indeed plays a prominent role on the 125 km long course, and even more so on the 55km long short course. After this week's inspection, it has been decided to change the location of the long distance finish. No longer in Ximazhen, but now in Tongbiguan. That means a reduction of distance to approx 125 km, but we feel that the initial extra 25 km offer little in extra value. Moreover, the final climb to the finish at lakeside may be shorter and less high in altitude than the previously announced road to Ximazhen, but it is more scenic and... challenging. The Col du Daonong brings 665 hm of the in total "only" 1000 hm in this stage. Save your energy, this one's got spice! 

At night, Yingjiang promises to host a Granfondo Evening Party as well. 

Precise map and profile will be released in October following the final course check.

Nordic Ways
Win a Gold, Silver or Bronze finisher certificate!
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As last year, everyone who finishes at least four stages of the long distance Granfondo Yunnan will get a personalised finisher certificate in a specific colour. If you manage to do all stages within the cut-off time, then you get the GOLD certificate. If you missed out on one stage, you still get SILVER. If four races was the maximum you could do this year, you still get BRONZE.

The certificates are an incentive and an objective for most of the participants in a granfondo, and how granfondo also started and developed in especially France and Belgium. Not everyone can fight for podium places, but everyone can score the gold certificate! GOOD LUCK!

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Draft design of this year’s Granfondo Yunnan medals

Draft design of this year’s Granfondo Yunnan medals

Nordic Ways
Beijing Radio International on Granfondo Yunnan
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On 1 August we had the pleasure of being invited by Gail of the FM Lifestyle show on the reputed Beijing Radio International to talk about six years of Granfondo Yunnan. The 26-minute show covers the roots of the event, its progress and ultimately this year’s edition that was virtually sold out in 26 hours. Nordic Ways was represented in the show by Kris, our race course designer and director for the event since the beginning in 2014. As a former competitive cyclist himself, Kris guides listeners through the six stages and you can pick up some interesting bits and advice for the upcoming event in November.

Listen to the interview with Race Director Kris here

Nordic Ways
2019 Full Long Distance tour sold out in just over 24 hours!

The full tour long distance of the 2019 Granfondo Yunnan is already sold out after 26 hours. We are very grateful and wild about your enthusiasm to join our 6th edition of the Granfondo Yunnan between 2 and 9 November. Please see below some important “what’s next?” points.

First and foremost, while the full tour long distance is full at 1000 participants, you can still sign up for individual stages and for the short distance. For those with a lack of time due to work or whatever, the combination Dali-Lijiang is possible to arrange by anyone.

For those who want full tour or nothing: there is a waiting list, obviously without guarantees so don’t book that flight just yet. If you'd like to be added to the waiting list, please enter your personal details via the online form: . We will inform you by email as soon as we have a space for the event.

We also still have a few places left from our official sponsors, you can follow the related marketing activities from SPECIALIZED China and JAKROO.

Finally, we wish everyone a happy training period and see you all in Yunnan in November!

Nordic Ways
2019 GF Yunnan opens registration!

The official registration for the 6th edition of the Granfondo Yunnan International Cycling Festival, or short Granfondo Yunnan, opens at 15:00 Beijing Time on Monday, 15 July. We recommend everyone keen to join the full tour this year to be vigilant on that day, as we expect the start bibs to go out the door very rapidly indeed!

The 6th edition from 2 to 9 November 2019 will revisit the novelties introduced to the event last year, albeit with one major change. The so-called Ruili stage has been substituted by a Yingjiang-stage, dubbed ‘The River Ride’. That is stage 2 of the event. Another important amendment is the finish line of the Prologue TT in Mangshi on the opening day. That line is now drawn in front of the silver pagoda instead of the golden pagoda. But make no mistake, in this case this means an ‘upgrade’ ! The Prologue is 300m longer than last year but those 300m are uphill and the views are even more astonishing.

The Border Ride from Mangshi to Ruili will use a different main road for the most part, before rejoining last year’s course. Along Gaoligong remains the ‘Queen’s stage’ of the event: 185 kilometres of technical and hilly terrain with magnificent mountain backdrops. Along Gaoligong in Tengchong is a challenge in itself!

The oldest stage is the Dali stage going around Erhai Lake, and we plan not to change anything. That means 115 km of quite flat and fast roads to recover from Gaoligong and loosen up before the big finale on Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the Sky Ride in Lijiang, which takes you to 3200m above sea level.

One point to note: like every year we have to await the outcome of the rain season - taking place right now till September - before we can 100 % confirm the race courses for nearly all stages. We beg for your understanding. Trust us that in the worst case we find valid alternatives to what we are promoting right now.

Last year, our event sold out in 2,5 days and given the major success and applause received by participants, we expect a raid on this year’s entry tickets. If you wish to do the full tour in November, you better decide this Monday or Tuesday :-) . Registration opens at 3 pm Beijing Time.

Last year the Golden Pagoda, this year it’s the Silver Pagoda for finish of the Prologue TT in Mangshi

Last year the Golden Pagoda, this year it’s the Silver Pagoda for finish of the Prologue TT in Mangshi

If you want to be there, sign up VERY quickly!

If you want to be there, sign up VERY quickly!

Nordic Ways
2019 Event Registration opening on 15 July

Please note that the new website of our beloved event is currently being updated for 2019. The event registrations will open on 15 July at 15:00 Beijing time. This will be done with a short early bird phase, followed by regular pricing. The full tour long distance is limited to 1000 riders, an increase of 250 compared to last year. However, there is as usual no limit to the registrations for one, two or more stages.

Please stay tuned for more details to come soon.

Kris Van de Velde
Four in a row for Miga

While Granfondo cycling events lay emphasis on each participant’s individual achievement - illustrated this year by the introduction of the different certificates in gold, silver or bronze as well as the 6-piece helmet trophy - there is always a race at the front, too. That competition promised and also turned out to be more open than in previous years, yet it was again Myagmarsuren Baasaankhuu and his teammates who walked away with the main prizes and all 6 stage wins. It was the sympathetic Mongolian’s’ fourth successive overall victory in Granfondo Yunnan, and afterwards he sounded keen on adding more wins in the next couple of years! Miga, as he is commonly known, rode an intelligent stage race mirroring last year’s. While his Australian teammate Craig Stuart was undoubtedly the fastest rider in the Prologue Time Trial in Mangshi, Miga never seemed to worry even when Stuart also grabbed the stage win in The Border Ride to Ruili, attacking out of an elite group with over 20k to go. The Australian, in his debut in Yunnan and looking good in yellow, really grit his teeth together in the first part of the week.

Meanwhile, a tall lady from The Netherlands dominated the proceedings in the women’s category. Anne Stegehuis had done some extreme long distance riding (e.g. Paris-Brest-Paris) before, but allegedly never really competed under racing conditions. Guided through the peloton by former Belgian professional Danny in’t Ven, Stegehuis took the prologue win and was also the strongest in the Border Ride and Rock’n Ruili. Always smiling, Stegehuis looked like she could win them all this year, as a few of her female predecessors have achieved in our event.

Rock’n Ruili, a 148 km rollercoaster with start and finish at the Myanmar border gate, was the first serious challenge of this year’s event. Thailand-based Russian Konstantin Fast, best rider in the AG 40 category, was in the mood for some climbing and did the big bulk of the lead work all day. Unfortunately for him, he could not drop his main rivals uphill and in the final kilometers on flat roads he did not have enough juice left to spoil the party of Team Mongolia CCN. Nine riders stormed to the finish at the end, and for the first time Miga showed he was still the team’s captain as he attacked in the final 5 km. Nobody reacted promptly enough, and the Mongolian took his first stage win. American Jurgen Eckmann, leading the AG50 category, made a good countermove, but he got reeled back in as the elite group launched the sprint for second place.

Along Gaoligong was the name of Stage 3 in Tengchong, a city with quite some WWII history. Gaoligong is the name of the long mountain range in the vicinity. A 185 km long and tough course through dozens of small villages and mainly on more narrow countryside streets. A cycling experience one hardly ever gets in China, let alone in an organised event context. For the top contenders masks would fall off, and for everyone who had the ambition to score the Gold certificate, this stage was key. Fear gripped the peloton as the weather forecast on the rest and transit day to Tengchong promised a fair share of rainfall. Alas, the rain turned out to be extremely local and only affected most of the long distance participants for 3 to 5km halfway through the stage, while some others did not see any rain at all. Granfondo Yunnan’s beautiful weather legacy therefore remained intact. Previously, rainfall only caused minor hinderance at the start of one Chuxiong stage two years ago.

At the front, battles raged from the beginning and yellow jersey Craig Stuart and top favourite Miga found themselves in trouble with mechanical problems. Female yellow jersey Anne Stegehuis got entangled in a bad fall with her teammate In’t Ven and a few others and was forced to chase by herself as the Belgian ex pro broke his collarbone: an unfortunate exit from the event for the AG50 contender. This opened perspectives for Chinese riders Zhou Qiuying - a good young climber from Kunming - and Shanghai’s Chi Zhaoyuan, who got stronger and stronger as the week progressed, coached by American cyclocross rider Josh Bauer. Bauer himself suffered a mechanical on stage 1, which dropped him back in GC and encouraged him to go flat out on the attack on all days afterwards. If there were a combativity price in our event, Josh Bauer would be a prime candidate.

Meanwhile along Gaoligong, Mongolia’s young climbing talent Iderbold Bold had taken the bull by the horns as he went on the attack with Thailand’s Khunakorn and teammate Erdenebat. Bold set such a high pace on the cobbled Wall of Tian Tai at km 62 that he dropped his own teammate. Disaster struck soon afterwards, though, as Bold had to get off the bike and replace a punctured inner tube. Khunakorn and Erdenebat went into the fast descent as leaders but very soon afterwards they suffered a cold as Kunming’s 16—year-old sensation Lijun Gang stormed past them both! It was not the first time in Granfondo Yunnan that we see local talent emerging. Four years ago, the now-professional rider Lv Xianjing raised plenty of eyebrows in our event with his climbing speed and raw power.

With 120 km still to go, Lijung Gang had no intention to wait for anybody and went flat out. For 20 kilometres, nobody was to be seen behind him. However, upon entering the main road at km 86, there was consternation on race radio as people announced the return of Miga and he was catching up with Lijun Gang quickly! Even if we had already seen a lot of impressive feats by the Mongolian over the years, his return to the front on very technical terrain after his mechanical and a deficit of 3 minutes ranks among his best performances. If there still had been any doubt about who the strongest rider in the field was, Miga made that clear that moment. He caught up with the Kunming boy and allowed him to tag along up the longest 6 km climb of the stage. Miga went solo in the descent, as the Chinese rider - under pressure - misjudged a corner. Lijung Gang nevertheless would not disintegrate in the remaining 80km of this gruelling stage and only narrowly missed the top 6 podium at the end.

With Miga alone in front, the race seemed over. Until… a clear yellow spot appeared on the horizon at the km 115 mark. Craig Stuart had also gone back on the chase following his woes early on, and seemed determined not to give away his yellow jersey without a fight. When Miga saw his teammate approaching, he opted to sit up and wait for him. Together they would ride to the finish in Tengchong, albeit that Miga dropped Stuart a few times on the steeper slopes. Probably with Lijiang already in mind, it was a nice gesture by Miga to allow his teammate another day in yellow.

Still, no more mercy during the flat stage of 115km around Erhai Lake in Dali. While most people feared a big bunch sprint - always dangerous in a mass participation event -, the top contenders, joined by the German sprinters’ Team Hermann and a few other non-climbers, set such a high pace from the get-go the peloton splintered up rather quickly. And again Team Mongolia CCN was dominant. All five made the eventual breakaway of eight, whereby Iderbold Bold was the last one to join, seemingly coming from nowhere. Thailand’s Tanaphon and Germany’s Benjamin Korndoerfer and Christopher Schunk were the three others. Any hope for a German or Thai stage victory were dashed, when Bilguunjargal Erdenebat and Iderbold Bold attacked relentlessly with about 20k to go to the finish. The two Germans did what they could, but they were simply outnumbered. The two Mongolians stormed ahead until suddenly another Mongolian appeared to be catching them on his own. It was Miga. One might think it was totally unnecessary, but Miga clearly wanted yellow already in Dali. And so it happened. Craig Stuart’s reign came to an end. Miga allowed Bilguunjargal take the sprint for his first ever stage win.

Only Miga could beat Miga in Lijiang. He had won the pure mountain climber’s stage in the past three years already, and it certainly did not look like Stuart still had the energy to cause an upset on the monster climb to Maoniuping, almost 40km uphill to an altitude of 3500m above sea level. Astonishing views along the way and a steady gradient make this climb unique and for most people even enjoyable, despite the obvious difficulty level. After the early breakaway launched by Josh Bauer, Iderbold Bold and Miga directed proceedings already on the first mountain climb of the day. On those slopes, sadly, Zhou Qiuying was seen by several referees as being pushed uphill by her male teammate. To the extent that she was able to keep contact with the first group at that point of the race, which also contained yellow jersey Anne Stegehuis and challenger Zhi Chaoyuan. A 1 hour time penalty was imposed, which was sad as Zhou Qiuying arguably did not need to be pushed by anyone to win the Lijiang stage for women. She arrived at the summit finish 17 minutes ahead of Zhi Chaoyuan, but tumbled down the ranking order when the penalty time was added. Regulations are there for everyone, and after clear warnings to all women before the Lijiang stage, it was not particularly smart of her teammate to push her in front of the race director’s own eyes. Zhi Chaoyuan on the other hand deserves praise for her stage win in Lijiang, ahead of an exhausted Anne Stegehuis. The Shanghai girl is fairly new to cycling herself and improved stage by stage to take her inaugural win. The Dutch woman, suffering slightly from the crash in Tengchong, was nevertheless the obvious and well-deserved winner of the 2018 Granfondo Yunnan for women.

In the men’s race up behind the two Mongolian leaders, Sichuan’s Jiazhi Zhao rode a remarkable last climb up to Maoniuping, keeping pace with the frontrunners. A former stage winner in Granfondo Yunnan, Jiazhi Zhao took third in the stage, 2:30 behind. He also made it to the GC Top 6 podium thanks to his great mountain ride. Lijun Gang also completed his granfondo as fifth on the GC podium. Ahead of them were the four best Mongolia CCN riders. Iderbold Bold took the honours for the stage win in Lijiang as Miga celebrated his fourth consecutive overall victory. While Miga may not have contested the stage win this year, we should not take anything away from Iderbold’s performance. The youngster never looked in trouble climbing up and having really featured in our Granfondo for the first time this year, he might just as well become a true challenger for Miga in the future…

The 2018 event concluded with 466 participants out of 718 official starters on the long distance full tour scoring a Gold certificate for finishing all six stages within the cut-off times. That is 65%, which is remarkably high given the tough and often technical nature of the course, which remains highly unusual in China. The finisher rate of the most technical and longest stage, Along Gaoligong, was as high as 84%! With five editions now in the history books, we can certainly testify that the average level of Chinese cyclists has improved vastly.

The 2018 edition of Granfondo Yunnan saw new cities and brand new stages, which were appreciated by nearly all participants. The 2019 edition will build on these, with modifications expected especially for the first stage in Mangshi. We look forward already to the 6th edition from 2 to 9 November 2019, and invite all of you to stay tuned as infos will gradually become available after Chinese New Year.

Link to the General Classification overview (also list of Gold Certificate achievers)

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Kris Van de Velde
Download your Finisher Certificate in Gold, Silver of Bronze
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Every participant who successfully completed minimum four long distance courses of the 2018 Granfondo Yunnan Festival can now download his or her finisher’s certificate via the results portal by Race Timing Solutions. Please find herewith the link . You can search for yourself via the search function, or browse through the results and the gold, silver or bronze tabs.

No fewer than 466 participants of the 718 officially registered starters for the TT have managed to obtain GOLD. A remarkable achievement and an indicator of the high level of participants this year. The 2018 edition was, after all, tougher than any of the previous editions.

Disappointed you didn’t score gold? Look forward to taking revenge next year!

Kris Van de Velde
Craig Stuart faster than Fast in Mangshi Prologue!
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Fantastic weather and conditions for all 716 registered participants today on the inaugural Mangshi Prologue time trial that marked the beginning of the 2018 Granfondo Yunnan Festival. The fastest riders on the technical 8.3 km long course that finished uphill and in front of the Meng Hong Pagoda were Australia’s Craig Stuart and Netherlands’ Anne Stegenhuis.

The 5th edition of the Granfondo Yunnan Festival features brand new stages and three new host cities. Mangshi, capital city of Dehong Prefecture in Southwest Yunnan, had the honour of hosting the prologue, a novelty in itself for the event and for mass-participation cycling events in China. Among the first riders in the late morning was China’s Jiazhi Zhao, winner of the Kunming stage in 2016. The now 25-year-old rider from Chengdu in Sichuan proved he still had fast legs as he set a strong benchmark of 13 minutes and 46 seconds. A time that put him in the Hot Seat for a long time. In the women’s it was Fushi Qi who set the first strong time of 16:51.

Halfway through the afternoon lull, out of the blue came 16-year-old Kunming talent Li JunGang. Amazingly, he demolished the time of Jiazhi Zhao and took the Hot Seat with 13:21, or 25 seconds faster than his more experienced compatriot. Baterdene Naraankhuu failed to be beat the time of the youngster with 13:29, a time he eventually would share with Josh Bauer from the United States. The youngster had reason to begin dreaming of an upset victory, but one hour later Thailand-based Konstantin Fast took over with a supersonic 13:00! But the Russian knows his competition and pointed out during the post-race interview that Craig Stuart and triple Granfondo winner Myagmarsuren Basaankhuu still had to finish… Fast was right. Stuart managed to go under 13 minutes with a time of 12:47. Riding for the Mongolian CCN team, based in Shenzhen, Stuart now only had to fear Miga, who started as last rider courtesy of his overall GF Yunnan victory last year. In a super exciting few minutes, Miga did not manage to beat Stuart’s time and crossed the line in 13:03.

In the women’s Stegehuis held onto the lead until the end, although Leung Kit Yi from Hong Kong and Olivia Ghisoni from France stayed within half a minute of her best time of 15:46.

Tomorrow in Stage 1 over 105km, participants will leave Mangshi and ride to the border of Myanmar during The Border Ride. There will be two bonus time sprints along the way, which could make life difficult for yellow jersey wearers Craig Stuart and Anne Stegehuis. 

Interviews and images can be found on our WeChat channel and Facebook page.

The race results are online here and coming soon in a cleaned up PDF

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Kris Van de Velde