By way of a monstrous 34.8km climb from 2’739m to 4’117m, Continental Team Astana’s Yevgeniy Nepomnyachshiy realized his first stage win in a UCI professional event and catapulted up into 2nd on GC behind Mirsamad Pourseyedi Golakhour, in the biggest shakeup of the general classification all week.
IMAGES: Mokhriz Aziz (UCI AsiaTour photographer) + Tour of Qinghai Lake 2013
Before Nepomnyachshiy (AS2) and his 129 companions could begin the final ascent of the race’s shortest stage (82km), they faced five laps of a 9.8km circuit over the wet and gritty streets of Qilian County; Pourseyedi Golakhour’s yellow jersey a luminous contrast to the sweeping grey above.
Skitterish onroad conditions, coupled with imminent pain to be wrought by the towering peak ahead, resulted in a reserved style of racing for the first half of the race. Daniel Summerhill (United Healthcare Pro Cycling Team) and Matt Brammeier (Champion System Pro Cycling Team) – beginning the day at 1’28” and 14’45” in arrears to Pourseyedi Golakhour on GC, respectively – sought to change that on the fourth lap, breaking away as the rain gathered intensity. At the close of the fifth and last lap, the pair moved onto the gradual lower slopes of the final ascent with a 1’35” lead over a field led by Tabriz Petrochemical Team (TPT).
TPT, assisted by Astana, continued to lift the pace, catching Brammeier and Summerhill with 20 kilometres of climbing remaining, and causing huge fractures amongst the field strung out behind. Meanwhile, Nepomnyachshiy began his winning move, tempo-ing ahead with Matej Mohoric (Sava), Andrey Mizurov (Torku Sekerspor) and Rahim Emami (RTS Racing Team). With their lead holding steadily at one minute through the 15km to go marker, the yellow jersey still looked comfortably in reach until, four kilometres later, a slipped chain bought him to a standstill. Pulling aside, Pourseyedi Golakhour corrected the problem himself and once again took off in pursuit of the leaders.
Up front, the quartet’s advantage over the now-30-strong group behind has shrunk to 30 seconds and Mohoric was wavering; with just over five kilometres remaining, the Slovenian lost contact. A little further down the road, Pourseyedi Golakhour had fought his way back to, and through, his old group – of which 70% were riders from Kazakhstan and Iran – but his quest to catch the leaders would become more difficult as Nepomnyachshiy, too, attacked. Mizurov was the first to be ejected by Nepomnyachshiy‘s acceleration, but Emami held steadfast.
Though he passed Mizurov inside the final two kilometres, the yellow jersey’s time to catch Nepomnyachshiy was running out. However, with the Slovenian much further behind on GC than many in the group he had ridden away from, Pourseyedi Golakhour’s principle concern was to gain more time on his closer rivals, including Amore & Vita’s Hossein Alizadeh, now only 100 metres behind. The overall race leader fought on and, moments after Nepomnyachshiy convincingly clinched his stage win, Pourseyedi Golakhour had also finished with a possibly insurmountable GC lead.
Stage 8, from Qilian – Zhangye (201km) starts 10:00 local time (02:00 GMT), Sunday, 14 July 2013. 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): Mirsamad Pourseyedi Golakhor (Tabriz Petrochemical Team)
Points Classification (Green jersey): Sacha Modolo (Bardiani Valvole – CSF Inox)
Best Asian Rider Classification (Blue jersey): Mirsamad Pourseyedi Golakhor (Tabriz Petrochemical Team)
King of the Mountains Classification (Polka Dot jersey): Mirsamad Pourseyedi Golakhor (Tabriz Petrochemical Team)
Teams General Classification: Tabriz Petrochemical Team
FULL RESULTS SHEET (PDF) HERE
STAGE 7 RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE SEVEN