If rain dampened spirits within the peloton, it didn’t show on the faces of Bardiani Valvole – CSF Inox riders, as they led out Sacha Modolo to perfection in today’s inaugural stage of the 12th Tour of Qinghai Lake. Taking place at an introductory elevation of 2’100 metres – half that of the highest point in the 2,010 kilometre race – the 122km circuit race was expected to result in a bunch kick, and it didn’t disappoint.
The race was animated with an attack by two riders from China, Xue Cheng (Gan Su Sports Lottery Cycling Team) and Wu Sheng Jun (Qinghai Tianyoude Cycling Team). The pair developed close to a one minute lead inside the first ten kilometres and their compact agility meant the gap continued to blossom on the wet roads as the much-larger peloton rode more cautiously.
On the third 17.4km lap, more escapees were in pursuit of Xue and Wu; Xue’s teammate Yang Zen Tao (GTC), Australian rider – and teammate of Wu – Dylan Spilby (TYD), and Ziga Groselj (Sava). Under the urgency of the two separate breakaways, the peloton’s deficit ballooned to almost seven minutes until, with 45 kilometres remaining, Lampre-Merida awakened the field and immediately upped the pace to reel in the four ahead. Less than one lap later, the hopeful escapees were welcomed back into the peloton.
Though the stage’s fate was resigned to a bunch sprint, a few “Kodak courage” attacks by locals added theatrical moments for the live TV feed being broadcast on national broadcaster CCTV and Qinghai Satellite. Inside the final 500 meters, Modolo’s Bardiani Valvole – CSF Inox sprint train over-powered the Synergy Baku leadout of New Zealander Rico Rogers, who finished second, with veteran sprinter Francesco Chicchi (Vini Fantani – Selle Italia) completing the podium. With the stage win, Modolo took not only the overall race leader’s yellow jersey, but also the green Points Jersey. Xue Cheng moved up to second place in GC and took the blue jersey of the best Asian rider.
Stage 2, Huzhu – Guide (151km) starts 11:00 local time (03:00 GMT), Monday 08 July. All stage maps and profiles, together with a full race backgrounder can be found on the Cycling iQ 2013 Tour of Qinghai Lake race preview page.
Individual General Classification (Yellow jersey): Sacha Modolo (Bardiani Valvole – CSF Inox)
Points Classification (Green jersey): Sacha Modolo (Bardiani Valvole – CSF Inox)
Best Asian Rider Classification (Blue jersey): Xue Cheng (Gan Su Sports Lottery Cycling Team)
King of the Mountains Classification (Polka Dot jersey): Not commenced
Teams General Classification: Atlas-Personal Jakroo
FULL RESULTS SHEET (PDF) HERE