Video: Clarke and Cromwell speak about ordeal of racing up one of the toughest climbs in cycling
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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Video: Clarke and Cromwell speak about ordeal of racing up one of the toughest climbs in cycling

by Shane Stokes at 7:31 AM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Interviews, Video
“I think it is certainly the most difficult parcours I’ve ever raced on”

Tiffany CromwellGrinding to the top of a 3,275, eighty kilometres-plus climb on yesterday’s Taiwan KOM Challenge, WorldTour rider Simon Clarke (Orica GreenEdge) and Orica AIS competitor Tiffany Cromwell have both spoken about the difficulty of the Mt. Hehuan ascent and how it compares to the roads they have encountered in Europe.

In a video interview carried out after yesterday’s race, Clarke has made clear that the mountain is a serious challenge and that it is comparable – or possibly even tougher – than many better-known climbs.

“That last eight kilometres is pretty gnarly. It is up there with Angliru and those kind of finishes,” he told VeloNation, “But the fact that you have to do nearly eighty kilometres of climbing before it makes it a very hard finish.”

“The idea was not to go too hard too early, because otherwise you don’t arrive at the finish. I stayed with the front for around 55 kilometres and then when they really went hard, I didn’t follow,” Clarke said, shortly after rolling in 33rd. He had made clear beforehand that his aims were limited due to the timing of the event. “For me, it is not the middle of the season. [Because of that] I am not in the best condition, so this time for me is okay.

The race climbs continuously from sea level, making it one very long grind towards a summit which is far higher than European climbs.

“I think it is a very hard climb and everyone who finishes today has done a great ride. This climb is so long, we don’t do anything like this in a Grand Tour. We do maybe twenty kilometre climbs but nothing more than that, so a climb this long is something very different.”

Cromwell finished second in the women’s event, ending the 105 kilometre contest twenty minutes fifteen seconds behind Eri Yonamine (Taiwan KOM). Like Clarke, she said beforehand that the timing of the event meant that she was also not in peak shape, but her ride was a respectable one.

“It is beautiful but everybody warned me that the last ten kilometres is really hard. They were not wrong, it was very, very tough,” she said at the summit, damp weather rolling in after what had been a dry day. “That’s because of the altitude and the steepness, and because I didn’t have compact gears, so I was only on 39 x 27 and was weaving across the road. I had to stop once just to get my breath again, but it was an incredible climb. I have never experienced something like that before. The fans were great alongside the roads…it was a nice event."

“I think it is certainly the most difficult parcours I’ve ever raced on. It is one of those races where you just get into your rhythm. You can’t really…if you go too hard at the start, then you are dead at the finish. It is a great race to get into a comfort zone and to challenge yourself.”

The event saw competitors from Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia and other countries travel to take part. It is likely to continue as an annual event and, having such a clear selling point as featuring one of the very toughest climbs in the sport, is likely to continue growing.

Watch above for video reactions from Cromwell and Clarke.


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