Three days of racing action are coming to an end and it can be said that the first edition of the Tour de CMU was more than successful. The event is anything but ordinary. The concept inspired us from the beginning, because it corresponds to our idea of "ride to help". The focus is not on the race, but on supporting the students of Chiang Mai University. The idea came from the CMU Alumni Association, a group of former students of the university. Among them is KAZE CEO Kanate Mekaew, who already supported us with his team when we participated in the Tour of Thailand. Their invitation for the Tour de CMU pleased and honored us at the same time very much.
The prologue consisted of a three-kilometer technical course across the university campus. One of the strongest riders in the Tour of Thailand, Sirironnachai Sarawut, took the stage win and thus started the next day with a five-second lead over Adne van Engelen and Lucas Carstensen.
The second, 128-kilometer, stage was mostly on a highway. The race remained very controlled until, 50 kilometers before the finish, it went through a few small villages over hilly roads. Here the attacks started and the field began to split. BIKE AID quickly took the lead and controlled the pace of the first group. As in the Tour of Thailand, the team managed to keep Lucas Carstensen in the slipstream for a long time. In the bunch sprint, he once again gave his rivals no chance and thus won the second stage. Leo Bouvier finished fourth and Adne van Engelen sixth.
Due to bonus seconds, Thai national champion Sirironnachai Sarawut started the third day in the yellow jersey as well. The stage was short, but had it all. After just 40 kilometers of mostly flat highway, the riders arrived at the foot of Mount Doi Suthep. Here, a 15-kilometer climb with an average gradient of 7% awaited them. For our mountain specialist Adne van Engelen, who also won the mountain finish of the Tour of Thailand, this stage was the personal highlight of the race. Moreover, this was his local mountain, which he climbs several times a week in training.
However, there was a surprise that no one expected. Lucas Carstensen reached the mountain first with a small group. He quickly managed to leave his rivals behind and suddenly the sprinter had a gap of three minutes over his pursuers. The climbers shortened the gap but did not manage to catch him. With visible effort, Lucas Carstensen took the mountain classification and won the stage with a fabulous 98 seconds advantage over Adne van Engelen. Thus he wins the overall classification.
Apparently the hard training pays off at the end of the season. Luca's form was simply unbeatable and one could think that he could succeed in every Thai race. Bike Aid also wins the team classification, the points jersey, the mountains jersey and Adne van Angelen becomes second overall behind Lucas Carstensen. A complete success!
191 riders took part in the three-day event. The mix of women and men of all ages, from amateur to professional, contested each stage together. All together, their entry fees add up to a substantial sum, which will be donated as money for scholarships for students at Chiang Mai University. Additional donations were also raised by the race's sponsors and partners. In a conversation with Mr. Kanate we learned that the problem of the students is the long-term financing of their studies. Many run out of money after a few semesters and have to stop their studies. The CMU Alumni Association uses the grant money they collect to fund scholarships for people like this. Mr. Kanate says that as former students of the university, it is very important for them to give something back. Chiang Mai's young generation is critical to the future of the region. Through the prospect of education, study and jobs, incentives are created to lead to sustainable development.
We were very pleased to participate in an event that promotes education through cycling and hope to be a part of it the next few times. Events like this show how much sport can move and how much positive influence it has on other areas of life.
Pictures by Tour de CMU