Today was the first stage of the 2011 Mongolia Bike Challenge. In the early hours of the morning, 59 riders prepared for the start of racing at the doorstep of the Gobi Desert. The buildup of tension from the preceding days was finally released this morning at 10am, the official start of Stage 1, just outside of Dalanzagad. It was a special day as athletes from around the world took their first pedal stroke on Mongolian soil – it was also a special day for race favorite and defending champion Marzio Deho birthday who celebrated his birthday today.
After a few kilometres a group of 16 established a lead group, riding into a strong headwind.
After 1.5 hours this group got a slight break as the wind changed direction. Just after the first refilling station Deho (Olympia) broke away from the pack followed by Italian Mauro Canale. After a long chase into the wind, Canadians Cory Wallace (Kona) and Craig Richey (NOP System/BC Bike Race) caught Marzio and launched their own attack. Wallace won the hill climb bonus (GPM) before finishing strong for the Stage 1 win with a time of 3h33’34”. Ritchey finished second (3h39’22”) with Deho in third (3h41’52”).

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