Craig Stuart faster than Fast in Mangshi Prologue!
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