Melissa Hoskins (GreenEDGE-AIS) claimed her first professional road cycling victory in Asia today, after decisively winning the 73.4km opening stage of the three-day UCI Tour of Chongming Island stage race in China.
Images: Tour of Chongming Island
Hoskins outpaced 2010 Tour of Chongming Island medallist, and fellow Australian, Rochelle Gilmore (Faren Honda Team), with Monia Baccaille (MCipollini Giambenini) claiming third. On overall classification, Hoskins will begin tomorrow’s 118.4km stage as race leader, 7” ahead of Baccaille – in second place due to time bonuses won in today’s two intermediate sprints – while Gilmore lies in third overall, a further two seconds back.
21 year old Hoskins, also a former World Junior Team Pursuit champion (2009) and gold medal winner of the Scratch Race during the February round of the 2012 UCI Track World Cup, has been impressive on the road this year, even though her main objective is to make the Australian Track Cycling squad for this year’s Olympic Games in London. This is her first appearance at Chongming Island.
Now in its sixth year, the Tour of Chongming Island is gradually building a reputation as a hard race, despite its pancake-flat parcours and short stages. The UCI2.1-ranked event lies in close proximity to the fifth round of the Women’s UCI World Cup, which will also be held on Chongming Island this Sunday. The coupling of a highly-ranked stage race to a World Cup round means some of the world’s best female road cyclists come to China. As Gilmore cautioned minutes before today’s stage, “No team can afford to come here and treat it like a training race”.
Even with the depth of talent in this year’s race, the two intermediate sprints, at 28.9km and 47km, ended up being a closed contest between Hoskins, Baccaille and Liesbet De Vocht (Stichting Rabo Women). The trio traded places on both occasions, with Hoskins and Baccaille claiming one win apiece on the first and second sprint, respectively. This boosted Hoskins’ confidence in what was expected by most teams to be a bunch sprint at the finish line.
“I was confident I had a good team behind me,” said a bubbly Hoskins, on the way to receiving her yellow jersey. “At the first intermediate sprint, we had it all lined up and I was in perfect position. We knew that if we had it strung out like that at the finish with me in a good position, there was no way we could do anything bad. I knew I had the form for the bunch sprint, but I was very wary of riders like Chloe (Hosking) who may have been saving their efforts for the end.”
As it happened, Hosking (Team Specialized – Lululemon) wasn’t on form today, but riders from Hitec Products – Mistral Home and AA Drink – Leontien.nl teams briefly animated the race with attacks. Unfortunately for those teams, a strong and assertive GreenEDGE squad successfully contained the field for the duration of the stage.
“Of course, we wanted a bunch sprint at the end,” explained Hoskins. “My team was absolutely fantastic. With five kilometres to go, they were on the front and we were ready to rock and roll. This is my first race with the team since the beginning of the year really, but they’ve looked after me so well I can’t see why we can’t hang onto the yellow jersey.”
David McPartland (Team Manager, GreenEDGE-AIS)
“The team worked fantastic today. I can’t say how happy I am to finally have a sprinter in our ranks. For the last couple of months, we haven’t had the luxury of having a pure sprinter in our team so the plan today was to make sure we went for every intermediate sprint because every second is important in a race like this. Melissa took the bonuses early, which is also good for team morale; the other teams were already on the back foot after that. Our team is well organized and because of that we’re going to get results.
With the new sponsor (Orica) coming on board we can’t be happier. This is the best way to reward Orica for their investment. Hopefully we can continue these results for the rest of the tour.”
LEADERBOARD AFTER STAGE 1
General classification (Yellow jersey) – Melissa Hoskins (GreenEDGE-AIS)
Points classification (Green jersey) – Melissa Hoskins (GreenEDGE-AIS)
Best Asian Rider classification (Blue jersey) – Lang Meng (China Chongming – Giant)
Best team classification by time – MCipollini Giambenini
Best Asian team classification by time – China Chongming – Giant
STAGE ONE RESULTS
INDIVIDUAL GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE 1