A misreading of the elements by Team Type 1’s key sprinter Alexander Serebryakov presented Leonid Krasnov his opportunity to leverage the tactical nous and speed hardwired into his DNA, thus handing Rusvelo its first stage win since the Tour of Qinghai Lake in July.
Note: Cycling iQ is not on-site in China. The below report and images have been provided by the Tour of China organising committee. Some spell-checking may have been applied, but the report has otherwise been left “as is” for authenticity.]
Stage 3 took the riders to the ancient transport hub of Dezhou, crisscrossed by the Yellow River, the Grand Canal, numerous terrestrial trade routes, the Beijing-Shanghai railway link and, for one day only, the third Stage of Tour of China 2.
It was yet another circuit race, with ten laps of the city, each of them 11.2km long. The mountains competition was inactive today: three intermediate sprints counting towards the most open and exciting category of the race more than made up for it.
The race start was frantic. Within five minutes, three riders had gained a lead long enough to name them: Valynin (RusVelo), Gabor Kasa (Salcano), and the BMC sprinter Tyler Magner.
Approaching the end of Lap One, eight riders broke across to them: Eloy Ruiz (Andalucía), Filippo Fortin (Team Type One-Sanofi), Xu Gang (Champion System), Ivar Slik (Rabobank), Angelo Furlan (Christina Watches-Onfone), the ever-active Tom Vermeer (Nutrixxion-Abus), Nazar Jumasekov (Astana 2), Ho Burr (China-Hong Kong).
By the time race radio had named them, they had been caught, and the peloton crossed the start-finish line intact at the end of Lap One. It stayed intact for Lap Two, before another attack formed during Lap Three, which would end with the first intermediate sprint of the day.
Marco Minnaard (Rabobank 2), Marcel Ternovsek (Tusnad Cycling), Saafi Mat Senan (Terengganu), Nazar Jumasekov (Astana 2), Wang Meiyin (China Hope Star) gained ten seconds and maintained that seldner lead for ten minutes, before, once again, the peloton devoured them.
Within seconds, another attack materialised, and this time, it was the breakaway of the stage, full of quality: the Best Chinese Rider category leader Kwok Ho Ting (China-Hong Kong), the Tour de Taiwan King of the Mountains Feng Chan Kai (Action), the consistently aggressive Wang Meiyin (China Hope Star), Tour of China 1 stage winner Tyler Magner (BMC), with Andi Bajc (Salcano), Jang Chan Jae (Terengganu) and Ilya Davidenok (Astana 2). By the end of Lap Three, those eight led the peloton by 1 minute 8 seconds.
Wang Meiyin (China Hope Star), the winner of yesterday’s last intermediate sprint, won today’s first one, followed by Kwok Ho Ting and Jang Chan Jae. The breakaway built on its lead, and had a maximum lead of 1 minute 35 seconds at the end of the Lap Four. By then, however, Kwok Ho Ting and Wang Meiyin had dropped back to the peloton, leaving just five riders up front: Feng, Magner, Bajc, Jang and Davidenok.
Approaching at the end of Lap, a little over a kilometre before the second intermediate sprint, Jang attacked alone. Davidenok and Feng gave chase, and then the Astana rider offered his hand to the powerful Taiwanese, and Feng took advantage of his handsling to chase down the Korean and take the intermediate sprint, with Jang second and Davidenok.
At the sprint point, the five leaders enjoyed a lead of 1 minute 34 seconds. Very quickly, their lead tumbled to a minute. Davidenok and Feng attacked out of the group and rapidly built a substantial lead as the peloton chased down Magner, Bajc, Jang. At Intermediate Sprint Three, their lead over the peloton was 1 minute 57 seconds, having dropped slightly from its maximum of 2 minutes 18 seconds.
Davidenok took the third intermediate sprint prize, with Feng on his wheel. As the peloton approached the line, race leader Stefan Schumacher, seeing his closest rival Cameron Wurf towards the front of the group, sprinted for the line and added another second to his overall lead.
With three laps remaining, the peloton slowly began to reel in the two attackers. On lap nine, consistent chasing by BMC reduced the gap to just 21 seconds. Then, the team of the race leader, Christina Watches-Onfone, concerned that the chase down was too quick, moved to the head of the peloton and effectively blocked the group. Within five minutes, thanks to little effort on their own part, Davidenok and Feng, riding alongside each other, extended their lead to 1 minute 13 seconds.
Then Schumacher’s team-mates relented and the chase resumed. Davidenok and Feng was eventually caught two kilometres from the line. Aldo Ilesic gave the usual, textbook lead-out to his sprinter, Alexandr Serebryakov. But today, for once, the Muscovite made a false step. As Ilesic explained after the stage, “There was a sidewind from the left. I told Alex that, when he went, he should go to my right. He went to my left.” As Cyrille Guimard used to say, ‘Le cyclisme, c’est de la voile”: cycling is like sailing – it’s all abut the wind.
RusVelo’s Leonid Krasnov accelerated into the space Ilesic had inteneded for Serebryakov, and enjoyed twenty metres more draft than Serebryakov. It was enough to take him past his compatriot and gain him the stage win. Meanwhile, the climber/all-rounder Alexander Gottfried (Nutrixxion-Abus) had an adventurous stage finish. First, as the road twisted, he received and earfull of abuse from former European cyclcross champion Angelo Furlan (Christina Watches-Onfone), who complained that the Kazakh-born, Russina-speaking German had blocked him. Then, from Serebryakov’s wheel, he was able to ease past the Russian into second place behind Krasnov.
Krasnov, a 24 year old from St Petersburg, has cycling in his blood. A graduate of the Lokomotif team in his hometown, run by the legendary Alexandr Kuznetsov (fathr of the tennis player Svetlana Kuznetsova), and then of Itera-Katyusha, he is the son of … Krasnov, Olympic Team Pursuit gold medallist at the Moscow Games in 1980.
In addition to the official Tour of China race reports, I also highly recommend checking out the blogs and images of participating teams from around the globe. The below-listed sites are simply the most up-to-date and visible. I’d love to hear from any other teams/riders that are keeping Tour of China blogs.
Aisan Racing Team (Japanese)
Champion System Pro Cycling (English)
Nutrixxion Abus (German and English)
Rabobank Continental (Dutch)
Team Type 1 – Sanofi (English)
Individual General Classification (Yellow jersey): Stefan Schumacher (Christina Watches – Onfone)
Points Classification (Blue jersey): Alexander Serebryakov (Team Type 1 – Sanofi)
King of the Mountains Classification (Polka Dot jersey): Serglu Cioban (Tusnad Cycling Team)
Best Great China Rider Classification (White jersey): Kwok Ho Ting (China Hong Kong Team)
Teams General Classification: Australia National Team
STAGE THREE RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE THREE