Smith completes China test
That’s how Stu Smith described the gruelling 2000km Tour of Qinghai Lake in China he completed over the past fortnight.
Smith spoke to The Star after returning to Australia on Monday.
“It was the hardest tour I have ever done by a mile,” he said.
Smith finished the tour 69th overall and led the Australian team home.
He humbly said the reason for this was “it came down to me just having the least amount of bad days.”
The outrageous tour climbed to altitudes over 4000m which causes havoc for the body.
“Once I got my breath back it was just unreal, it was so high up,” Smith said.
“One stage was a 35km climb and it had more than 20 switchbacks in it.
“Some of the places that we went to were just unreal. You wouldn’t ever see them, I don’t know how people live there.
Smith said that the weather was a contributing factor to the toughness of the tour as well.
“We were there in the hottest month and it rained every second day,” he said.
“Every day felt like two days. You’d get wet for an hour or two hours then it would be 30 degrees, it was just something else.
“Because we were travelling so far and going from such different altitudes the weather was completely different at different stages.”
Smith said the goal for his team was just to finish.
“I was sick for the last week and fighting all sorts of stuff so I was really happy to finish,” he said.
“Everyone’s goal in the team was to finish. I would say over 20 riders didn’t make it to the end.”
The last few stages were relatively easy compared to the first few according to the 22 year old.
“The tour peaked in the middle,” he said.
“We started high and then got higher and then the last couple of stages were at around 1500m and were mostly loops in cities which was very different to the start.
“The hardest part for me was the day before the rest day. I was really starting to struggle but luckily we had the rest day there or it would have been a different story.”
Although the thinner air made respiration a struggle there were some advantages.
“It was super fast racing because at altitude there is less air resistance,” he said.
“We were averaging about 50km an hour which made it quick but super hard to get in break-aways because you would have to ride at close to 60kms an hour.
“You do ride about 20 per cent below what you do at sea level, you think you are going the same but you are going well below.”
Smith is now set to compete in the Tour of Gippsland which starts in Phillip Island next week.
“Hopefully it has put me in really good stead for (the Tour of) Gippsland,” he said.
“It was completely different riding with this next level of riders and has really helped me as a rider.”
Despite the hard test the tour was Smith would do it all again he said.
“Certainly a race you couldn’t go to with having that kind of experience before,” he said.
“And I would love to go back again. Although if you asked me yesterday I would probably say ‘never again’.”
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