Quite a sensational ride today by defending GKF MTB champion Tuguldur Tuulkhangai (Team Chiru-Magura). After being dropped by his compatriots Baasaankhuu and Jambaljtsen early on, Tugu battled his way back to the front and beat them in the sprint. It was his sixth career stage victory in Xiwuqi.
The 10th anniversary edition once again began under a blue sky with a record number of participants (650 starters). The Mongolian riders as usual did not feel like wasting time, having warmed up on Nadamu Hill moments before the race start, and Jamba took of like a bullet as soon as the gun was shot. 2014 champion Myagmarsuren Baasaankhuu decided to tag along, and the two opened up a small gap already in the first kilometre! Germany's Philip Bretsch chased them down with Tuguldur just before Nadamu Hill. On the steep climb, Bretsch lost contact and saw the three Mongolians fly down the descent fifteen metres ahead. They did not wait for him. In fact, Miga's pace was so high, even Tugulduur couldn't keep up after a dozen kilometres! However, around the 50km mark, he suddenly found his old legs back and managed to return to the leading duo. Bretsch in the mean time had dropped back and would finish fourth. Tugulduur immediately took control of the trio, and then even outgunned them in the sprint to the line.
In the women's we also saw a sprint finish after 65km. Surprisingly, the 2012 champion Solongo Tserenlham showed great speed today and kept up with race favourite Enja Tuvshinjargal! In the sprint, Enja just nicked it. Chiara Eberle conceded eleven minutes in third place. To underline the exceptional ride by Solongo Tserenlham today, last year she was no match for Eberle on the two longest stages.
The KOG participants were also quick today. China's Wang Guolong even finished the stage in fifth place, a mere six seconds ahead of Russia's Alexey Chakhlov. Wang Lidong was third of the KOG athletes six minutes further back, and good runner Zhang Zhenlong two minutes further down. It is expected that Zhang Zhenlong takes over the green leader's jersey in the marathon run tomorrow. The big question is: by how much time?
The women's KOG leader after today is Irina Gribanova from Primorye in far Eastern Russia. She completed the course nine minutes faster than Fan Huixian and Ren Shufang.
MTB STAGE 1 - TOP 12 MEN:
1. Tuguldur Tuulkhangai (MGL) 1:55:22
2. Sainbayar Jambaljamts (MGL) 1:55:22
3. Myagmarsuren Baasaankhuu (MGL) 1:55:22
4. Philipp Bertsch (GER) 2:00:00
5. Wang Guolong (CHN) 2:06:04
6. Alexey Chakhlov (RUS) 2:06:10
7. Altan Ochir Erdenebat (MGL) 2:06:37
8. Bayanjargal Batsaikhan (MGL) 2:06:38
9. Iderbold Bold (MGL) 2:06:38
10. Wang Lidong (CHN) 2:12:57
11. Zhang Zhenlongg (CHN) 2:14:38
12. Arnold Lozano (PHI) 2:15:01
TOP 10 WOMEN
1. Enkhjargal Tuvshinjargal (MGL) 2:06:10
2. Solongo Tserenlham (MGL) 2:06:11
3. Chiara Eberle (GER) 2:17:27
4. Qin Ziye (CHN) 2:23:13
5. Delgermaa Dalanbayar (MGL) 2:28:17
6. Sugarjav Khurelsukh (MGL) 2:28:34
7. Irina Gribanova (RUS) 2:28:43
8. Fan Huixian (CHN) 2:37:46
9. Ren Shuifang (CHN) 2:37:47
10. Song Kaili (CHN) 2:41:31