Points classification leader Sacha Modolo elevated the coveted green jersey further from the reach of his rivals, completing a hat-trick of victories in this year’s race so far and continuing to frustrate ProTeam squad Lampre-Merida’s search for its elusive first stage win in China.
IMAGES: Mokhriz Aziz (UCI AsiaTour photographer) + Tour of Qinghai Lake 2013
Beginning in one province (Qinghai) and ending in another (Gansu), today’s 201 kilometre stage would bring to a close a week-long odyssey at high altitudes. A rest day scheduled in the finish town of Zhangye on Monday would also provide welcome relief for the 124 riders still eligible to start the following day’s ninth stage. 42 kilometres were covered in the first hour of racing, by way of the first KOM (3’449m at 23.31km) won by Hossein Alizadeh (Amore & Vita) ahead of Nazar Jumabekov (Continental Team Astana) and Yoann Paillot (La Pomme Marseille). The recurrence of mechanical failure dogged Pourseyedi Golakhour, rendering him out of contention for KOM points. As the race leader rejoined, Grégoire Tarride (La Pomme Marseille) attacked and was soon followed by Liu Biao (Champion System Pro Cycling Team). Together, the pair built a 3’30“ lead over the next half hour.
Two hours of racing complete, Tarride and Liu approached the lower slopes of the race’s second-last KOM summit into the mountains. A kilometer further back, a small break of five riders, including classification leaders Pourseyedi Golakhour and Alizadeh shot out of the field. Bothersomely for the yellow jersey, 2nd-overall Nepomnyachshiy latched on, too. Unable to catch the leading pair before the summit (3’869m), Pourseyedi Golakhour was nonetheless still able to collect sufficient points to guarantee the Polka Dot jersey would be his for the remainder of the race.
With rain falling steadily onto the greasy roads, and with the finish still 124 kilometres away (1’499m) at an average gradient of -1.9%, Tarride and Liu progressed with decreasing advantage over the peloton. Liu, a constant protaganist in the race so far, eventually detached himself from Tarride, but this only translated to the Frenchman losing speed rather than Liu gaining it. Fifteen kilometers out from the feed zone (122.8km), the peloton connected to Champion System’s own “Jacky Durand”.
Once through the feed zone, another intermediate sprint ahead (at 131.9km) energised a trio of riders – Nik Burjek (Sava), Luis Mas Bonet (Burgos BH – Castilla y León) and Sun Jae Jang (RTS Racing Team) – to attack, with Mas Bonet taking line honours and moving into fourth on the Points Classification, behind Lampre-Merida’s Max Richeze. Once scooped up by the peloton, sustained average speeds above 60kph effectively crushed the aspirations of further opportunistic getaways.
It was not until the parcours began to flatten out with 30 kilometres remaining that Champion System’s Matt Brammeier and Sava’s Tim Mikelj freed themselves from the bunch, with Davide Frattini (United Healthcare Pro Cycling Team) and Floris Goesinnen (Drapac Cycling) following soon after. The latter pair hovered in plain sight of the peloton, while Brammeier and Mikelj separated themselves by two minutes. Incredibly, given the high speed finale, this advantage was only halved as the five-kilometer marker came into view. There was to be no miracle though, with the sprinter’s teams – Modolo’s Bardiani Valvole – CSF Inox, Lampre-Merida and Team Netapp – colluding to eliminate the deficit only metres from the one-kilometre-to-go banner.
“Although the victory was clear, it was a tricky final stage” explained Modolo, post-stage. “We worked all the day to catch the breakaway and for the sprint we had to take advantage from the trains of other teams. I did a fast last corner and a first sprint to go on the wheel of Förster (UHC). With 300 meters to go I started my sprint because I was afraid of the comeback of other riders behind me, but fortunately (nobody) passed me. Now the goal is (to win) the point jersey but also help my teammates to win.”
Stage 9, a 117km circuit race in Zhangye, starts 10:00 local time (02:00 GMT), Tuesday, 16 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 8 RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE EIGHT