2012 Tour of China II stage 5: Tianjin Circuit Race

BMC Hincapie Development team notched up its second stage win in China today, courtesy of a small break that achieved the rare feat of remaining ahead in a circuit race without being snuffed out metres from the finish. Despite being caught in a finish line tumble, Stefan Schumacher takes home the Tour of China II yellow jersey.

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.]

Images: Tour of China
Video: QQride

The final stage of Tour of China 2 was a true criterium, covering just nine laps of a 10km circuit around the city of Tianjing, employing the finish line of yesterday s individual time trial. The hardest climb was the camber of the road, but the route offered plenty of twists and turns, and more than one team felt that, this time, a breakaway might just make it to the finish.

On Lap 1, there were numerous early attacks: Jordi Sim n of the Andalucia team 9th in the Tour de l Avenir last year, and 2nd in a stage there to Michael Hepburn Maartin Tusveld (Rabobank 2) and Marek Canecky (Salcano-Arnavutkoy) made a spirited attack that soon fizzled out, before three riders did manage to open a small gap: Anton Samohlavov (RusVelo), Anatoliy Pakhtusov (ISD-Lampre) and Joe Lewis (BMC-Hincapie Sportswear) led for about two laps in all, with a maximum advantage of 22 seconds.

But on the approach to the first intermediate sprint of the day, Champion System chased them down to set up Anuar Manan for the sprint points. Serebryakov started the day with a ten-point lead over Anuar in the blue jersey competition, and the Malaysian was determined to make a race of it.

Anuar won the sprint, closely followed by the plucky Joe Lewis, with Harrif Saleh, Anuar s lead-out man when he still rode of Terengganu, picking up third. With one sprint down, Anuar lay five points behind Serebryakov, with 26 possible points left in the race. Game on.

The peloton stayed together for the next twenty kilometres, until Intermediate Sprint 2. Again, Champion System provided the perfect assistance, and again, Anuar darted across the line first, ahead of Tyler Magner (BMC-Hincapie Sportswear) and Ruslan Tleubayev (Astana 2). Suddenly, Serebryakov s safe lead in the points competition had dissolved, and Anuar Manan was on fire.

Beyond the sprint line, as the peloton slowed to catch its breath, four riders took advantage to form the final break away of the day. Two of them were Andalucia riders Jordi Sim n once more, accompanied by Rom n Osuna, with Marc Goos of Rabobank 2 (7th in yesterday s time trial, and 6th overall, 55 seconds from the yellow jersey) and another BMC rider, Oscar Clark, a real criterium specialist sitting second overall in the US national criterium series not that the others will have known this.

Those four built a maximum lead of 60 seconds, assisted from the rear by sandbagging by Andalucia and Rabobank. The Spanish team placed riders at the front of the peloton over the penultimate lap, effectively killing the chase and ensuring the quartet of leaders had an advantage of 50 seconds going into the last lap. Rabobank applied the same tactic over the crucial kilometres between 10km and 5km out.

By the time RusVelo and TeamType 1-Sanofi finally broke the inertia and launched the chase in earnest, it was too late.

Goos, a 21-year-old from the countryside outside Breda, proved he may be a fine time triallist and an effective climber, but no sprinter, by being at the front far too early. Over the final metres, Oscar Clarke and Rom n Osuna came passed him. The American, 23 years old from Atlanta, Georgia, took what he called, post-stage, the best result I ve had all year by far. To be at the end like this and finish it off is awesome.

I m not a big sprinter: normally I m working for someone else in the sprints. Today we thought a breakaway could stay away. It s the last day, everyone s tired, and there were plenty of corners. It felt more like a US criterium.

Goos capped a good Tour of China with third place in the stage. I m a bit disappointed I was too early at the front, but I m not a big sprinter, it s OK. Yet to have a firm ride for 2013, Goos will be hoping his results here attract some offers.

So, clever, very slightly underhand teamwork from Andalucia and Rabobank 2 helped demonstrate the truth of Chapatte s theorem the general rule that a breakaway with a lead of one minute per ten kilometres has a chance of making it but all they achieved was victory for the wrong rider all together! BMC-Hincapie Sportswear celebrated victory in the final stage of Tour of China 1 with Tyler Magner. Oscar Clark s canny ride allowed them to do the same in ToC2.

Behind the leading quartet, Alexandr Serebryakov (Team Type 1-Sanofi) led the peloton home, securing the sprint jersey by virtue of a better finish than Anuar Manan. Anuar was nowhere in attendance: perhaps tired, perhaps badly positioned, he didn t dispute the final sprint at all. Perhaps he was just lucky: a nasty fall 50m from the line say Tyler Magner, Ben Hill (Australia), Hsiao Shih Hsin (Action) and one of the Salcano riders (perhaps Gabor Kasa) go down. Plenty of skin stayed on the asphalt, but there were, as we go to press, no reports of anything more serious.

Those four riders face an uncomfortable journey home. Not so Tour of China 2 winner, Stefan Schumacher: he slid virtually sideways to avoid the fall, and made it home in one piece.

The last race I won was Tour of Serbia, he said after the stage. I went down at the end of the final stage and ended up with a valve impaled in my arm, all the way through to the bone. I had to walk across the finish line to finish the race.

This is the first time I ve won my final race of the season. Whatever the rest of the year brings, it s nice to see out 2012 this way.

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.

Aisan Racing Team (Japanese)
Andalucia (Spanish)
Champion System Pro Cycling (English)
Nutrixxion Abus (German and English)
Rabobank Continental (Dutch)
Rusvelo (English)
Team Type 1 Sanofi (English)

FINAL LEADERBOARD 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): Jose Cano (Andalucia) Best Great China Rider Classification (White jersey): Li Fuyu (China Hope Star)