Fast opening stage forces late splits in China

Sun 10 Sep 2017

The Tour of China part one kicked off with a relatively flat opening stage on fast roads from Fenging to Weichang with Mitchelton-SCOTT just missing out on the late split to finish in the bunch a few seconds behind the sprint.

A fast and aggressive stage started in cold and wet conditions before finally drying out as the kilometres ticked by with the first half of the race characterised by numerous small breakaway attempts that were brought back by the peloton.

Chinese rider Wenhui Bi produced a strong performance for Mitchelton-SCOTT, bravely fighting his way back into the bunch from an untimely mechanical to then infiltrate a late attack that was unfortunate to be caught in the closing kilometres.

The constant fast pace did not relent and a late split involving ten riders jumped clear before the line to contest the sprint that was won by Luca Pacioni (Androni-Spidermec) who also takes the race lead into stage two with Harry Sweeny the best placed for Mitchelton-SCOTT.

“We just missed out on the race winning split at the end,” said sport director Dave Sanders. “The boys had ridden a solid race and there was a crash as we hit the finishing town, right when ten guys clipped off the front and they held their advantage all the way to the line.”

“Wenhui Bi did an excellent job, he fought hard to regain the peloton after a flat and then managed to get into one of the late attacks, impressive work for such a high-speed race.

“It was only a matter of seconds that separated the leading group, but it was enough to determine the winner and all our guys finished together in the bunch. We are looking ahead to the hillier stages later in the week where the aim is to be more aggressive and try to utilise a parcours that is more suited to our characteristics.”

Stage two is the longest of the race at 197kilometres from Xiyang to Yunzhuhu and takes place on Tuesday, part of the Northern Chinese province of Shanxi and southeast of Beijing the stage has an intermediate classification and is undulating.

Tour of China stage one results:

1. Luca Pacioni (Androni-Spidermec) 03:13:36

2. Liam Bertazzo (Willier-Selle Italia) ST

3. Siarhei Papok (Minsk-Cycling Club) ST

54. Harry Sweeny (Mitchelton-SCOTT) +0:11