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CK BB in Tour of the Himalayas 2011

Haring víťazne

Slovak team finished successfully their Himalayan mission in Pakistan...





Slovak team finished successfully their Himalayan mission in Pakistan in a mountainbike stage race Tour of the Himalayas. The pre-race acclimatization at a Shogran mountain resort (2500m altitude) presented also an opportunity to participate in a Sports Day at local school, which is still being rebuild after an earthquake in 2005, by the race sponsor.

Racers were devided into 4 groups for a highlight of the sports day, a tug-of-war match. And so the first winner from our team, even before the actual race had started was Lívia Hanesová. At the end of the day, racers were giving out trophies to children who had competed in various disciplines.

After moving the convoy of cyclists to Naran, serious preparation for the first stage begun. The importance of this action is also shown in the fact that respective Ministers of Sport, Education and Industry were present at the Grand Opening and at the Awards Ceremony.

Tímová zostava

Slovak team composed of Lívia Hanesová, Martin Fraňo, Martin Haring, Zuzana Vojtášová and Peter Košút was fighting for victory with other 40 racers from 11 countries. Teams were either on national basis or mix-teams with different nationalities of cyclists. Individual competitions were held among women and men and a Team classification was based upon the times of the 2 strongest men and the strongest woman in each stage. The first stage was literally a „killer“ marathon, where cyclists had to climb almost 2000 metres in altitude in just 28 kilometres from a starting point of Jalkhad at 2900m above sea level to Babbusar pass at 4200m above sea level. After reaching the pass cyclists took the same road to get back to the start-finish line. Muddy track caused by previous night's heavy rains and a high altitude made the stage a real challenge mostly for European riders, but passing the Babbusar pass rewarded them with spectacular view of the south slope of one of the eight-thousanders Nanga Parbat.

In the mens cathegory, the Dutch rider Irjan Luttenberg – an ex-bronze medal holder from a European Championship in XC, ex-professional New Zealander Nathan Dahlberg, a previous winner of Tour de Maroc and the Road Champion of Mongolia and a former member of a UCI Camp Altansukh Altanzul  along with our Martin Haring were considered the main rivals for overall victory. Overall number of men riders was 29 at the start.

In the womens cathegory, our two riders along with British Mel Alexander (single speed MTB specialist), Rickie Cotter (England Champion 24 hours race), German Steffi Hadrashek, and Austrian Lisa Pleyer with vast experiences and victory from Cape Epic and Ruitas des Conquistadores races were among the expected podium finishers.

From the very start of the first stage, the Dutch Luttenberg was leading the race but he didn´t adapt his tactics  to the altitude and couldn't maintain the pace for long and soon was being outrun.  From this point on, the imaginery baton was carried by our racer Martin Haring who kept his leading position safe until the finish line. Step by step he got rid of all his rivals and crossed the finish line as a winner in time 2:50.17h, followed by the Mongolian Altanzul. Third place was taken by Dutch Irjan Luttenberg. Martin Fraňo did a great job today as well . He set himself an easy tempo together with  Košút, and both of them overtook several rivals during the race. They crossed the finish line in 6thand 8th place losing 13 and 19 minutes to the winner respectively. The situation was less optimistic in the womens peloton - Lívia but mostly Zuzana had serious problems due to the high altitude and finished in 8th and 9th position losing 40 and 46 minutes respectively to the winner, Austrian Lisa Pleyer of the Eurasia team.

In the second stage, a 50km cross country circuit race around the Saif ul Maluk lake consisting of 6 laps at an altitude of 3200m Haring wore the leaders yellow jersey and profited of his rich cross country experience. Luttenberg again tried to get into leading position from the start, but soon he backed out of the leading group and later abandonded the race due to problems with the altitude.


That was the moment when Haring attacked and got into lead. He crossed the finish line alone in time 2:16.06h with an advantage of some 6mins over the Briton Friel. Fraňo and Košút were not that happy about this  technical and stony track. Fraňo finished in 8th position with a 29min loss. After a puncture, Košút finished in a 17th position with 57mins loss, but the last laps of the race he stayed supporting our Lívia Hanesová who struggled for Slovakia team to be successful in team competition. The stony surface was not very suitable for Lívia, but she was fighting bravely and ended up at 7th position among women, with a loss of 37mins to the later overall winner Mel Alexander from Britain. Zuzana Vojtášová didn´t finish this stage. All riders who failed to complete a stage had a penalty time of 25 minutes added onto the time of the last cyclist who finished the course, which literally eliminated such riders from the individual ranking,  but enabled them to start in next stage.  Results for Team Slovaka were really promising after the stage, Haring was leading with satisfactory time difference, Fraňo moved to 5th position and Slovak team moved to second place in the Team competition. Martin Haring enjoyed the technical circuit: „I liked today's stony cross country track better than the demanding marathon yesterday. At the end I rode with confidence and didn´t take any risks. The track was great, surroundings of the lake is literally a paradise and I really enjoyed my day in the yellow jersey.“

The third stage was supposed to decide about the general classification. After having moved back to Shogran from Naran, cyclists had to face an exhausting up-hill time trial. This course with a huge elevation of 1700m in just 14km followed by 2 one-kilometre long laps around a small lake on the top. It was the Dutch again rocketing from the start, but Haring only controlled the situation and literally played the cat and mouse game with them. He broke the stage record by almost 12 minutes by finishing in time 1:36.05 with the Mongolian Altanzul finishing runners-up with a time difference of more than 10 minutes.

Fraňo was acting very tactically and with the increasing altitude he was overtaking many rivals, moving up to provisional 5th place. Cramps prevented him from this good result though and he crossed the finish line on foot. Košút made a good result when coming in 6th place.

 In women´ category the Brit Rickie Cotter dominated and finished before Austrian Lisa Pleyer and German Steffi Hadrashek. Zuzana Vojtasova finished among women at 5th place with loss of 24 minutes.

Generally speaking, Slovakia team was quite successful. Haring won each stage and in general classification finished well ahead his competitors with runner-up Nathan Dahlberg loosing  34 minutes. Fraňo finished 6th, Košút 10th. The most successful women were Mel Alexander from Great Britain, German Steffi Hadrashek and Rickie Cotter. Team Great Britain won also in team classification ahead Slovakia and Eurasia.


„This race really was new and unforgettable experience once I got used to the altitude. Organisation was at a good level. Huge promotion in the media, wonderful surroundings of Pakistani Himalayas, snowcapped mountains, beautiful lakes and jeep transport to the start of the second stage is   experience I will remember all my life. Three victories and victory in general classification are results   I didn´t really expect and I´m satisfied how I managed to race in these conditions“ said Haring at the finish line.

„For the first time we got to an event like this. We decided to take part in this race based on great experience of our German and Dutch friends. I really am very thankfull for our invitation, it was one of the best races I have ever taken part in. I believe that this race in high altitude will help Haring and Vojtasova in their cyclo cross races in beginning of the season. I am also really proud that team Slovakia filled cover pages of many Pakistani daily magazines and its results were appreciated by our fans and representatives of pakistani government. We already got an an invitation to the next year's race and created a strong ties with the organizers. There was amazing atmosphere during the whole race highlighted by a farewell party at an organizer´s lake house which was a brilliant end to a great week in Himalayas. Some riders didn't adjust fast enough to the altitude, like Vojtášová or Dutch Luttenberg. As for me personally, I was very surprised how I managed to pass the altitude of 4000 metres where I didn't feel any problems whatsover in comparison to some rivals who felt lack of oxygen in the air. Easy adjustment to the altitude probably played an essential role in Haring's victory in general classification“ added Slovak team manager Martin Fraňo at the end of the race.



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