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Bainbridge cyclist wins Tour of Thailand
Islander Kiel Reijnen, riding for the Jelly Belly Cycling Team, won the Tour of Thailand Tuesday
“I’ve done plenty of races of the same caliber and the same level, but this is the biggest win,” he said of the six-stage race.
The Tour of Thailand was the second stop on the team’s road trip. The team competed in the Redlands Bicycle Classic in California March 25-28 then traveled directly to Thailand.
“My feelings were mostly of relief for being able to pay back my teammates for all the work they’ve been able to do for me and all the little things finally added up and came together,” Reijnen said.
During the second stage, mechanical errors resulted in Reijnen emerging as the team’s leader.
Reijnen held the leader’s yellow jersey for the first four stages.
“At that point in the race, everything turns and the focus is simply about keeping the yellow jersey on my back because everybody lost time,” he said. “It’s still a team burden, but the guy with the jersey has to get the job done. When I run out of teammates to keep me protected and hydrated, I have to still finish that job.”
Despite losing the yellow jersey after the fifth stage, he entered the sixth stage only 19 seconds behind the leader.
“For the next four days they kept me protected as best they could, and basically sacrificed any chance for the jersey.”
The sixth stage
“The last and final day it was no longer our responsibility to defend the jersey, so their team had to work on the front,” he said. “We hit them with a bunch of attacks so we could get them tired, so toward the end of the race I could break away and win with a margin enough to get the jersey back.”
While the conditions in Thailand weren’t the most intense of Reijnen’s career as compared to races in Malaysia or China, the conditions were extreme.
“Normally in a race you go through a bottle an hour, so depending on a race there’s five to eight guys on the team going through five bottles a race. Add it up, it’s 40 bottles. We only had five guys at this race and we went though 130 bottles a day – and that’s just water bottles, that’s not including the dousing bottles. It was a job just to keep all the guys on the team hydrated.”
Reijnen, a senior University of Colorado at Boulder, will compete in the Tour of Korea beginning on April 22.