Sweeny saves the best until last with sixth on the final stage in HainanWed 31 Oct 2018
A challenging nine days of high level racing drew to a close for Mitchelton-BikeExchange at the 13thTour of Hainan today with Harry Sweeny achieving the team’s best result of the race as the breakaway held off the peloton in Danzhou.
The Chinese registered UCI Continental squad had a consistent race overall with repeated top 20 finishes from Briton Jacob Hennessy and climbers Brayan Chaves and Nazaerbieke Bieken.
Chinese road champion Niu Yikui and compatriot Zhi Hui Jiang were also active throughout, but it was Sweeny’s result which proved to be the highlight.
Breakaway surprise the peloton at the last:
As with almost all of the previous stages the ninth and final day of racing began with a flurry of attacks as riders attempted to form the breakaway and gain a positional advantage for the first intermediate sprint.
A large group, close to 20riders looked to be going clear, but the peloton remained cautious, and in the end only seven riders made it, including Australian Sweeny.
Sweeny’s group worked well together, but never gained more than one-minute 40seconds as Androni-Giocattoli looked to protect the slender lead of race leader Fausto Masnada.
Yet despite the efforts of the peloton, Sweeny and company managed to carry a lead of one-minute into the last ten kilometres as the sprinters teams left it late to join Androni at the front of the bunch.
In the end the sprinters left it too late as Simon Pellaud (Swiss-Cycling-Team) attacked out of the break with two kilometres to go and forced his former companions to give chase, simultaneously upping the pace and killing off the peloton’s chances.
Pellaud held on for the win and Sweeny sprinted into sixth place for Mitchelton-BikeExchange’s top result of the race. Fausto Masnada sealed the overall victory and Nazaerbieke Bieken finished second in the best Asian rider classification some two minutes down on blue jersey winner Lyu Xianjiang (Hengxiang).
“The breakaway took a long time to form as many teams were unhappy about previous moves. About an hour in our breakaway formed but contained GC riders so never got more than 1:20. We planned to ride tempo and finish off the last 30kilometres full gas.
“At about five kilometres to go I was confident we would stay away, however the collaboration stopped. Simon Pellaud made a great move with two kilometres remaining and I chased immediately but unfortunately nobody else was willing to help. It's a great way to finish the last race of the season in the breakaway and a nice way to wrap up the Tour of Hainan.”
Sport director James Victor:
“We expected the break to come back over the closing kilometres, but in the end, they managed to hold on and it’s a great result for Harry and a positive way to finish off the race."
“Having someone up the road is always a good move, because it means that the rest of the team don’t have to work back in the peloton and it makes it all a bit easier. We said during the stage that Harry just needed to be the last man standing – whether it came back or not – because that would give him the most aggressive award and a trip to the podium.
“All in all, it’s been a tough, but positive week for us and in particular our Chinese riders. After winning the best Asian rider jersey’s in both Tour of China I and II, we had targeted that here, but with the level of competition it was always going to be difficult.
“Nazaerbieke Bieken did well to finish second in that category and almost break the top 20 on GC and he has learnt a lot from this race. We have two solid races coming up at Quanzhou Bay and the Tour of Fuzhou and we’ll be aiming to build on our experiences here and user what we’ve learnt to positive effect.”
Tour of Hainan stage nine results:
1. Simon Pellaud (Swiss-Cycling-Team) 04:10:53
2. Peter Schulting (Monkey-Town-Continental-Team) +0:05
3. Lorenzo Rota (Bardiani-CSF) ST
6. Harry Sweeny (Mitchelton-BikeExchange) ST
Final general classification:
1. Fausto Masnada (Androni-Giocattoli-Sidermec)
2. Gino Mader (Swiss-Cycling-Team)
3. Julien El Fares (Delko-Marseille-KTM)
22. Nazaerbieke Bieken (Mitchelton-BikeExchange)