The Mongolia Bike Challenge is more than a bike race.
Ok, it is actually still just a bike race. But it offers a lot more than many mountain bike races. THe Mongolia Bike Challenge offers a unique way to see the Mongolia environment and culture, and no matter what your speed, the speed of a bike is often the best way to see somewhere. The mongolia Bike Challenge also has offers local riders the opportunity for international competition closer to home. And the Mongolian riders are often stepping away from UCI Continental races to do just that.
A slightly chilly start saw the riders start Stage 1 at a furious speed, with the main pack breaking up after just 5km to leave a lead group of just 8 riders, including pre-race favourites Yuki Ikeda, Miguel Silvestre, Ryan Sherlock and Nicholas Pettina and three very strong-looking Mongolian riders, including the dangerous Bolor Erdene Enhtaivan.
At 65km came the first of the days two GPM/KOM points, with Pettina taking the full 30 second time bonus.
Silvestre, Ikeda, Sherlock and Bolor then did their utmost to hang on to Pettina’s wheel as he put in a furious attack but to no avail. The Italian national team rider then charged every hill alone to gain a ten minute lead by the second GPM/KOM at 105km. In the end he won the stage and took the race lead by a whopping 16 minutes.
Silvestre was 2nd with Ehntaivan putting in a great ride to come 3rd, 4 minutes down on Silvestre.
1 Nicholas Pettina
2 Miguel Silvestre
3 Bolor Erdene Enhtaivan
Brilliant sunshine and a canopy of magnificent clouds greeted the participants of the 2015 Mongolia Bike Challenge as they set out on the 117km Stage 2 that saw the riders head through the Khan Kentii National Park.
Another electric start saw the pack disintegrate on the early hills with Nicholas Pettina and three Mongolian national team riders attack and get a decent gap. In the three was yesterday’s third placed rider Bolor Erdeni Enhtaivan.
Behind this flying quartet Ryan Sherlock and Miguel Silvestre Iniesta were two minutes behind, with Japan’s Yuki Ikeda chasing hard, though he was never to quite make contact.
Pettina again took the first GPM/KOM to take the 30 second time bonus, and then attacked his Mongolian companions as they neared the second GPM/KOM point at 77km, which came atop a stunning peak in the Khan Kentii National Park, amidst a backdrop of giant rocky outcrops under the eye of the soaring golden eagles.
Enhtaivan then suffered an untimely mechanical that saw his chances of another podium finish disappear.
Sherlock and Iniesta then worked very well together to overhaul the Mongolian riders and though they had visual contact with Pettina, the Italian race leader won by 1:30 to further extend his lead over Iniesta. Sherlock moved into third overall.
The overwhelming reaction of the finishers of Stage 2 was one of wonder at the environment through which they had just cycled, which presented them with a variety of views that reminded one, at various times, of the Alps, the Pyrenees, the American west and of course, Mongolia.
All gathered to cheer in the final rider to come home, who finished just in time to beat the time cut.
1 Nicholas Pettina
2 Miguel Sherlock
3 Ryan Sherlock
Results so far are online