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Conor Dunne Tour de Korea blog: Part II

Conor Dunne
7 Jun 2016

We catch up with Conor after three stages of the Tour de Korea and hear stories of long days, hard climbs and dodgy hotels.

We catch up with Conor after three stages of the Tour de Korea, which have included some serious climbs, beautiful scenery, and many an attack from Cyclist's guest blogger. 

Since my last blog post, three stages of the Tour de Korea have passed, and we're now much further north in the country, in a city called Daejeon.

I discovered it to be one huge metropolis on the ride home from today’s stage, riding through motorway traffic, skin-suited, hungry and semi-lost, but I made it in the end. I currently write this from my rather random race hotel, which is in actual fact some form of taekwondo training compound. The rooms are boiling hot, the pillows are made of straw and I feel like a confused cycling karate kid. 

The race has been pretty positive so far, and I’m happy with how I’ve been feeling. I was originally concerned with how well I’d recover from my last race, the An Post Ras, which was another eight day slog in Ireland a few weeks ago. However, I appear to have emerged from the fogginess of jetlag with vital signs intact.  

Stage one was 189km and mostly flat. I tried my luck solo with 10km to go but was caught 2km from the finish, then stage two ended up turning into a bit of an epic day out, with 240km total on the clock and 3,000m of climbing. The last 30km had turned into one big slog, with everyone so tired that we appeared to be riding in slow motion, but after six hours in the saddle we managed to lead Russ (Downing) out for a respectable 5th place on the stage [which was won by One Pro Cycling's Chris Opie]. 

Anyone who says continental European racing is the hardest out there is right, and I’ve experienced the gutters of Belgium on many an occasion. However, I began to revise my opinion slightly during that stage, while suffering through the umpteenth lineout, on the umpteenth climb, through the hills of south Korea.  

Not that I’ve had much time to truly realise it, but the scenery has certainly been spectacular, with numerous lush green mountains dotting the landscape. The race has mostly used fast, wide highways but invariably when we turn off onto the smaller roads it seems that the gradient always increases dramatically, and there are a great deal of tunnels on the roads as well, with different lighting arrangements in each. The speed always feels greater in the dark I reckon. 

I had another go today on stage three, but got caught inside a kilometre to go, which kind of sucked. A group of 25 slipped away early and I sat on the back of it all day, with my teammates behind in the bunch. It was hard to tell whether it would stay away or come back once we got to within 5km to go, so I decided to put in an attack. It was worth a try and nearly paid off, but I’m now sitting in my little taekwondo hotel feeling rather knackered. Russ managed to turn out a great 7th place in the bunch sprint though and is looking good for future stages, especially with some upcoming fast, flat days. 

Another five stages to go, and I’ll continue to do my best not to crack too much with the Korean food, especially with the serious pizza cravings I've been having that rice just doesn’t satisfy. 


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