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Conor Dunne Tour de Korea blog: Crashes and camaraderie

Conor Dunne
10 Jun 2016

Part three of Conor's Tour de Korea blog takes us into the undergrowth of the Korean rainforest and over cross-cultural bridges.

We're now six stages through the Tour de Korea and my teammate Ed Laverack is holding onto a solid 10th place on GC, while the finish in Seoul is looming on the horizon. I'm feeling decidedly more haggard, but still holding my own.   

I’ve had a few more personal cracks at glory, including a day-long breakaway on stage 4, which came to nothing 1km from the finish. During today’s stage 6, I was also feeling pretty good and hopeful of a good placing. However, things took a sudden turn for the worse on the descent of the day’s final climb with 60km to go...

The bunch seemed pretty relaxed and the pace wasn’t excessive in comparison to the descents earlier in the race. I remember coming round a sweeping bend and looking down the line of riders, seeing guys starting to pedal again as they exited the corner. Then suddenly on the apex, everyone hit a small trench in the road where a new pipe had been laid and not re-surfaced properly. In a split second everyone was crashing around me, to my left and right. I went from thinking: ‘I can rescue this,’ to immediately realising, ‘I’m not going to rescue this’.

As riders went down, I was forced off the road to the left. I remember having to make a split second decision upon seeing a big concrete barrier and lots of green in front of me. I decided to aim for the green and from then on it turned into a bit of a surprise safari. Catapulted into the rainforest, I cleared the barriers at speed and assumed the tuck as I was launched off my bike, before closing my eyes and hoping for the best. Luck was on my side and I only hit small tree branches, which must have broken my fall, but it felt like I’d been tossed around in a washing machine, on the extra spin cycle, before I finally came to rest.  

By some miracle I had no serious injuries. The team radio crackled in my ear and I listened as the all clear was given, stating that none of our riders were involved in the crash. Fumbling for my radio beneath the shrubbery I’d accumulated on my person, I quickly called out: ‘No! Wait for me, I’m in the bushes’. 

I stumbled around for my bike in a semi-confused state and realised that it was nowhere to be seen. I literally couldn’t find it anywhere in the undergrowth, so I decided to abandon the poor Condor and made my way back up to the road. Korea had it now. After a quick bike change when the team car rolled up I was on my way again, but I never managed to rejoin the bunch and made my way to the finish in a small group of fellow crash victims. 

Throughout the race, I’d say that there has been a slight divide in the bunch between European and Asian riders, with neither side managing to quite integrate socially. However, in my group of 20 that rolled home to the finish, a couple of Koreans seemed to adopt me after I gave one of them a spare bidon, and after that I had a constant supply of Coca-Cola from their team car all the way to the finish. Those rare moments of cease-fire in a bike race are always humbling.   

Anyway, there's two more stages to go including a city centre circuit race around Seoul. Ed (Laverack) is up there on GC and I'm sure we can lead Russ (Downing) out for a couple more sprints. The show goes on! 

Tour de Korea blog part 1

Tour de Korea blog part 2

Words: @conordunnealot

Photography: @angussung

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