9 Nov 2018

The highlight of my career - Leo Yip experience at Taiwan KOM Challenge

"A season of ups and downs has gone by and there was nothing more I was looking forward to than racing this event and closing my season at the Taiwan KOM Challenge.
Having never having climbed this high or this long, let alone with world tour racers I don’t have much to go off on how to race it.

My fitness was questionable too given I fractured my wrist a couple weeks before race day and spent the last 4 weeks on the trainer, but nonetheless, I was still motivated and ready to rip it one last time!
So this is how the race went down! It’s a race with 105km and 13,000ft of climbing. I didn’t want to go in with much expectation of how long I would last in the field but to just stick with good frienand Sp2 Athlete Cameron Piper (4th place finisher last year). The first 18km was neutral and served as a good warm up before heading into the climb. Neutral ended and as usual riders started going off the front but soon enough after about 3000 ft of climbing, world tour rider Jan from Ag2r got to the front and started stringing out the field. I was pushing 350w-400w (I weight 146lbs) to stay on the wheel in front of me and the 800 rider field turned to about 100 riders within 1000ft difference of climbing. During this time we passed through tunnels that were almost pitch black and all you could see was literally the light at the end of the tunnel, and maybe the head of the rider in front of you.

Going about 30-35kph uphill meant the elevation ticked off quickly. Next thing you know it’s about 60km and getting close to 6000ft. In my mind, this isn’t even halfway yet as the last 10km is full of 20+% pitches and that should take a while. Soon enough about 70km in, I start to feel the legs get tighter and the lactic acid rushing. With barely any chance to coast, the legs are just feeling heavier by the second. Starting with nearly 800 riders, there was only about 30 riders left at the 75km mark.
I made it to the 75km mark, 5km from the feed zone, about 6500ft climbed and about 10km from a short descent, the only place to stop turning the cranks for once and enjoy the stunning scenery.
The goal here was to make it to the decent. Unfortunately, the Factor guys riding for John Ebsen (winner of this year) turned it up another notch.
Pushing way over my threshold, and having climbed for almost 3 hours I knew my time was almost up. I looked back and only about 20 guys left.
Surprised, a little extra motivation surged to help me make it all the way to the feed zone where I desperately grabbed a feed.
88km, about 8500ft climbed was where I decided to let the wheel in front of me go. I chose to drop back because I knew the last hour of the race wasn’t like the first 3. You can make it to the last 10km and still lose it all just because of how steep it is. Let’s just say people have walked it and you don’t want to be cramping. It was a decision tactically so I can make it up in the fastest time I think I can possible. I was riding alone at this point with minutes to the guys behind me and it finally settled in that I’m riding for a top 20finish.

The last 15km or so was a solo journey. Giving it everything I have to push the pedals up 20% grade sections, the last 5km was the longest 5km I’ve ridden. It felt never -ending. Pushing threshold yet still going snail pace was not fun. Seeing the finish but never to seem like you’re actually getting any closer was even less fun. But knowing as a first timer here and having just beat many full time pros and racing with world tour riders, that was a lot of fun. Knowing I’ve made the lead group selection before it began to blow up was also very motivating. 3 hours 45 minutes and 23 seconds later, I crossed the finish line. A very happy and relieving moment, 20th was an accomplishment. I finished as the 1st rider of Hong Kong and the third Chinese rider behind Taiwanese World Tour rider of Bahrein Merida, Feng Chun Kai.
The 2018 Taiwan KOM Challenge was one hell of an experience. I believe that day was the best race I’ve ever had. It was great to see so many people from all over the world compete and locals cheer us on from start to finish. Without a doubt I’ll be back next year. All this could not have been possible without my family, coach and sponsors. Take a read below about how each of my supporters have played a part to my day at the KOM challenge and beyond."