Tour de Korea

Arguably the biggest Asian UCI race on the pro-circuit, the 2.1 Tour of Korea was definitely one of the best races I’ve been apart of.

With a 160-page race handbook (the biggest I’ve ever seen before), the detail in every feature of the tour was impressive.

Our objective was to target stage wins, so we had eight days to give it our best shot and secure some results.

Prior to departing Australia, I had already told myself, that I wouldn’t be coming back home if I didn’t achieve a win or two.

It must have encouraged some extra motivation however, as I enjoyed two podiums in 2nd place on stages 1 & 3, two victories on stages 4 & 8, plus three days in the blue sprint jersey and one day in the yellow leaders jersey!

Stage 3, Race Video:

Stage 4, Race Video:

Stage 8, Race Video:

Aaron Lee wrote some great articles on the racing in Korea, here are some links to his awesome work:

On top of those results, teammate Gav Manion enjoyed a day in the breakaway and finished in 3rd place on what was the ‘queen stage’ of the tour. Brad Evans found himself in the breakaway on stage 7 and in a uncommon event when the finish line camera wasn’t working, a decision was made by the UCI, to award a ‘tie’ between One Pro Cycling’s Kristian House and Brad who both lunged for the line together, not allowing commissaries to officially award either rider victory.

Graeme Brown was a pivotal part in the lead-out, delivering me perfectly on both occasions to take victory. He passed on some tips and advice during the stages, just little things that helped me to achieve this week, so I’m enjoying working with Brownie and learning from his past experience. Nathan Earle was riding well to support our team’s plans each day, covering moves and riding the front for our lead-outs. It was great to race with Nearle, he knows from his experience how to race smart as well, so it was nice to know you’re well supported by your teammates!

Overall, Gavin finished 7th on the individual GC and we placed third in the teams classification. I finished with the most points in the sprint classification, securing my first UCI professional sprint classification jersey and with three stage wins and three podium finishes, we were all smiles post race! Job well done.

With 1,229km’s covered over the eight days, we travelled a lot around South Korea, passing through many small cities and experiencing a range of hotels.

Cyclists look for two things when arriving in a hotel on tour, the bed and the wifi. For most of the week, we had reasonable quality for both, but it was mixed feelings when staying at the Police Academy with straw (drinking) pillows, firm bed and a speaker, which sounded at 7am each morning! The funny thing was, the best wifi we had all week was in this accommodation.

My roommate Tim Roe was racing his first race back since injury sidelined him for a few months. It was great to see him back racing and working hard to support our team’s goals each day. We both liked to go for en evening walk after dinner and on some afternoons and/or mornings before the stage, we both enjoyed a brew at the nearest cafĂ©. Starbucks was first priority but we found many places that produced a reasonable coffee.

There is so much work behind the scenes to professional cycling, small things that go unnoticed by the media and public eye and we couldn’t have been so successful this week without a team of support staff. From our sports director Keith, to soigneur’s Daryosh & Toby, my little bro JJ as mechanic and our Korean translator Yuna, they all had a job to do and it was nice to see them enjoy our successes. And those rice cakes we used as extra race food, they were delicious!

My highlights of the tour were extensive, but wearing the yellow leaders jersey for a stage and the blue sprint jersey were both memorable moments, not only for me but the whole team.

I was proud of the boys commitment and terrific teamwork to achieve the great results we came away with, everyone fulfilling their role to perfection. I enjoyed me week's racing thoroughly.

My bro Jarryd does a great job on the tools, making sure our bikes are ready to go each day, so it was awesome to have him alongside me on tour. We broke a number of wheels and ruined a few parts here and there in crashes, but after putting in the hard yards, replacing our bar tape on our bikes mid-tour, he got it done for us.

I won a few flowers whilst I was over there, so seeing our Korean translator or some of the race/ and hotel organisation staff smile when I gave them my flowers was satisfying. I still had a few bunches on our way home from the race, but despite trying we couldn't persuade the airport staff to reduce our excess baggage costs, it was a good idea though, haha.

Staying at the olympic village, it was cool to see where the athletes stayed and admire the olympic rings and burning olympic flame.

On the final night, we had to find out what Korean BBQ is all about, so our team dinner was a traditional one, featuring some amazing foods. The popular 'Kimchi' was a hit amongst most of us, accompanying the BBQ pork quite nicely. A nice food experience after a solid week of hotel buffet.

The Tour of Korea concludes the first half of my season, heading back home to Australia for a short mid-season break before returning to Europe in early August for the second half of the season.

In this time I will be running a junior skills clinic with the Cycling Australia Lets Ride program, aiming to teach kids the basic skills for riding whilst encouraging safe and fun cycling environments.

To find out more about Let’s Ride and what I’m involved with, follow the link below:

*Photo credit: VELO PAPER


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