2012 Tour of Qinghai Lake | Stage 10: Wuwei Jingtai

Andrea Guardini is well on the way to his third hat-trick of stage wins his year, after taking out today s 191 kilometre tenth stage. The day s category three climb caused no challenges to the four jersey wearers, although race leader Hossein Alizadeh was joined by a familiar face on the presentation podium.

Image: Mike Murano Cycling Asia (also on Twitter)

For the previous two days, Champion System s Cameron Wurf had been hovering a mere one second behind third-placed Javier Ramirez (Andalucia) on overall general classification. Over the course of the race, Wurf had remained solid through the high mountains whilst ensuring he always remained in the top third of the bunch thus reducing his chances of being caught out in a crash as it sped towards the finish of each stage.

The cyclist from Sandy Bay in Tasmania, who rode his first Giro d Italia in 2010 as a 26-year old, pounced on the opportunity to take back that precious second in the day s first intermediate sprint which occurred 63.5 kilometres into the stage. It was a fine tactical play by the Australian who, like others in the peloton, has been suffering bouts of topsy-turvey tummy .

Throughout this year s Tour of Qinghai Lake, Wurf has remained stubbornly latched to the top climbers from Iran and Colombia who are far more accustomed to the type of altitudes found in Qinghai province and has praised the support given by his Chinese teammates on his blog, describing Jiao Pengda as a super star .

Champion System s status as China s premier road cycling team, and the apparent concern about the mediocre performance of imported riders to Chinese domestic teams, means Wurf will be under enormous pressure to continue his ascent to the top spot, come Thursday. According to China s News Service, Qiu Jijin, a UCI international commissaire from China, expressed the view that foreign riders have by far performed less satisfactorily than expected . Qiu was quoted as saying that riders introduced from abroad should excel domestic ones. There must have been better options for Chinese teams.

With an elevation gain of 600 metres and distance of 220 kilometre, Wednesday s 12th stage presents as the most obvious platform for Wurf to launch his takeover bid. With only two intermediate sprints and three stages remaining the Australian will need to squeeze every ounce of effort possible from himself and his teammates to transform Champion System s 2012 middling season to a stellar one. It would certainly be the best response to the sentiment expressed by Qiu, and others like him.

Champion System s General Manager Ed Beamon (foreground, wearing hat) looks on as his team prepares for the start of stage 10. Image credit: Margo G (click on image to jump to Margo s Twitter feed)

Check out more of Mike s images at the Official Tour of Qinghai Lake photo gallery.

CLASSIFICATION LEADERS AFTER STAGE TEN Leaders (Yellow) Jersey (??): Hossein Alizadeh (Tabriz Petrochemical Team) Points (Green) Jersey (??): Luka Mezgec (SAVA) King of the Mountains Jersey (???): Hossein Alizadeh (Tabriz Petrochemical Team)

Best Asian Rider (Blue) Jersey (??): Hossein Alizadeh (Tabriz Petrochemical Team)