Climbers come to the fore on stage one in Fuzhou

Wed 14 Nov 2018

Ripping up the format of starting a stage race with a sprint or a prologue, today’s opening stage of the seventh Tour of Fuzhou dove straight into GC territory with a tough uphill finish and a solid ride from Liu Jiankun for Mitchelton-BikeExchange.

Covering only 107kilometres, everything built towards the final with a second category climb leading on to a first category summit finish right at the end of what was essentially a flat approach across urban circuits that led to the main event.

It took over an hour of racing for a group to go clear and with 45kilometres to go, four leaders had one-minute 35seconds on the chasing peloton.

That lead did not last for long, and the group were caught by the second intermediate sprint, fresh attacks came going into the last 25kilometres as the route headed out of downtown Fuzhou and into the countryside, but the fast pace being set by the bunch kept things just about together until the base of the climb.

The Eritrean team were the most active as the fireworks ignited on the climb, attacking the field and shattering the bunch. As the gradient stiffened a select group struggled to form with riders scattered across the slopes.

Liu Jiankun was best placed for MBE and fought on behind the leaders, four favourites emerged in the closing kilometre and battled out the stage victory with Chinese rider Lyu Xianjing (Hengxiang-Cycling-Team) taking the win with a late sprint and the first leader’s jersey of the Tour with Liu crossing the line in 13th.

Sport director James Victor:

“Liu rode really well today, and we can see that he’s in good condition and carrying his form from Quanzhou Bay, which is great to see especially on a challenging finish like we saw today.”

“There was a lot of pressure on the overall contenders from the start today and the boys rode well into the climb when the race started to come alive. Tomorrow things will settle down a bit and it should be a day for the sprinters.

“With Kaden Groves stage win last week and the form he’s showing we can go into tomorrow looking for a result and we will support him 100% for the sprint finale and do our upmost to have him in the best possible position.”

Tour of Fuzhou stage one results:

1. Lyu Xianjing (Hengxiang-Cycling Team) 02:31:31

2. Ilya Davidenok (Beijing XDS-Innova-Cycling Team) ST

3. Hanibal Tesfay (Eritrea) ST

13. Liu Jiankun (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) +1:09