But in the „Kingdom oft he Middle“ almost everything seems to be very different. Even if also in this race free by John Degenkolb "The finish is always at the finish line", but the impressions that we get around the event are so different from those here in Europe. Landscapes that are so incredibly beautiful and gigantic are blazing the trail from the start tot he finish day after day as well as enthusiastic crowds, that everybody is astonished. It is not rare that a „small chinese city“ (with about two to three million inhabitants), welcomes us with 300,000 to 500,000 frenetically cheering spectators at the track. This leads not just one time giving every involed peole the creeps - just a gigantic stage for the race.
Already after our first participation in 2014, all participants were already actually agree: we want to come back again. And so the team (12 people with drivers and attendants, after all) took his way also thiis year to fight for good results for almost three weeks at this special race near the border to Tibet. And that’s what they did. And they di dit quite well. The very big success was indeed missing a bit but the guys still managed to reach a Top ten result almost every day. Maarten and Niko could also reach a quite good 26th and 28th place in the GC - a good performance, considering that this race is ranked in the second highest category of the International Cycling Union (UCI). Currently, only the parallel, "right" Tour de France is just a higher ranked race.
But of course there are also many small experiences making this race so special: For example when you realize how differently you actually for the natives are when they eye you up in a very surprised way and obviously ask tehmselves :, "Why do they have so long noses? "or" Why are all so pale (except perhaps our Eritreans) ". One thing seems to be for sure : here are not very often so many people from Europe, America or else where. In general it is also noted that the cultural differences are already very huge and thus the small, simple tries to communicate are not always successful. As we are then already more happy that we had a dedicated interpreter who is always on hand to help and we can overcome the communication barriers.
Although the race is so difficult and requirea lot from all – because 10 bikes must be cleaned indeed every day, serviced and loaded and not to forget all the massges for the riders –everybody felt sad the day we left. Such an event brings everybody even more together as a team, because you share many great moments, experiences and emotions. And finally one thing is very clear againr: we want to come back to this unique experience at Qinghai Lake!