2012 Tour of China I Stage 5: Zaoyang Circuit Race

After resting on Taiji Nishitani’s shoulders for less than 24 hours, the sprinter’s blue jersey was (figuratively; it would have been a mighty tight fit otherwise) handed over to Team Type 1 – Sanofi’s Alexander Serebryakov. It was the big Russian’s second Tour of China stage win, and there are plenty of opportunities left for more.

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 has been applied, but the report has otherwise been left “as is” for authenticity.]

Images: Tour of China & Sonoko Tanaka
Video: QQride.com

Today saw the running of the fifth stage of the 2012 Tour of China. The skies were cloudy but it was an improvement on the rain that marred yesterday’s stage. The riders had to circle the flat course ten times for a total of 115 kilometers. There were three intermediate sprints which were important because we have seen daily changes in the Points Jersey.

For the first few laps saw the riders stay together but the huge crowds that were assembled didn’t seem to mind as they cheered loudly every time they saw the riders fly past. At the first sprint point Leonid Krasnov from the RusVelo team nipped the peleton at the line. They group stayed together until after the second sprint point which was again won by Krasnov. After that the riders began to get a little more combative.

A group of fifteen riders escaped and it included the Yellow Jersey holder Martin Pedersen (CWO) but nobody that was a threat to Taiji Nishitani (AIS) who held the sprinter jersey.  They initially had a break of about fifteen seconds. The group was making an attempt to hold the gap and Team Christina Watches-Onfone did a good job of disrupting the chase. The group did a reasonable job of working together but they were never able to get more than twenty seconds clear of the bunch. They did, however, hold the lead through the third intermediate sprint, denying the riders who were vying for the lead of the sprinters’ contest. Unfortunately for Nishitani, he would not wear the blue jersey for a second day because he was involved in a crash just after the final intermediate sprint.

With the riders heading into the final lap, there was still a group of about fifteen riders in a breakaway which held onto a small gap but it was clear that most of the riders in the lead group were happy to sit in and let others work for them. By the time they approached the finishing straight the break had been absorbed back into the group which lead to a group sprint. The final sprint was slightly downhill and there was a tailwind which pushed up the speeds. The RusVelo team, along with Aisan Racing Team and Team Type 1-Sanofi all had sprint trains and were neck and neck, drag racing to the line. RusVelo was ahead early but they jumped too early so Alexander Serebryakov (TT1) was able to claim his second stage win of the tour.

The Tour of China concludes tomorrow with stage six which will be run through the streets of Wuhan. This will see the second mountain sprint of the tour. Matija Kvasina (TCT) will be looking to keep his Polka Dot Jersey as the tour’s best climber so he will be trying to take home as many points as he can so he can wear the jersey on the final podium. The last stage looks to favor Team Type 1-Sanofi but teams with nothing to show for so far in this tour will be  challenging them for the win.

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. My sincere apologies if I left out any teams. The below-listed sites are simply the most up-to-date and visible. I’d love to hear from any other teams/riders that are keeping Tour of China blogs.

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)

Individual General Classification (Yellow jersey): Martin Pedersen (Christina Watches – Onfone)
Points Classification (Blue jersey): Alexander Serebryakov (Team Type 1 – Sanofi)
King of the Mountains Classification (Polka Dot jersey): Matija Kvasina (Tusnad Cycling Team)
Best Great China Rider Classification (White jersey): Xu Gang (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
Teams General Classification: Christina Watches – Onfone