2012 Tour of China II stage 2: Jining – Jining

On current form, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that Alexander Serebryakov could win this race. With yet another ten seconds of time bonuses from today’s stage win in the bag, the soon-to-be-out-of-contract sprinter needs only one more stage win to tie with current yellow jersey Stefan Schumacher.

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

Jining, the birthplace of Confucius, hosted stage two of Tour of China 2, which was also the sixth circuit race of Tour of China fortnight, every one of which had finished in a bunch sprint.

The stage started with a one-minute silence in memory of the Spanish rider Victor Cabedo, who died yesterday in a training accident. Cabedo, the winner of the hardest stage of the Vuelta a Asturias last year riding for Orbea, grew up with several of the riders on the Andalucia team, and Eloy Ruiz was especially close to him.

From the stage start, the riders headed north a couple of kilometres to the eventual finish line. From there, they embarked on six 23.9 kilometre circuits, with intermediate sprints at the end of Laps 2 and 4, and a Category Three mountain prize on a recently-constructed road bridge in the middle of Lap 3.

Despite repeated attacks, the peloton remained intact through the first intermediate sprint point, won by Anuar Manan (Champion System, dossard 33), with his Malaysian compatriot Harrif Saleh (Terengganu, 131) second and the Italian sprinter Angelo Furlan (Christina Watches-Onfone, 75) third.  Those five sprint points gave Anuar the lead in the points competition.

At the mountains prize, situated on a road bridge erected only a month before the race, Andalucia’s José Luis Cano (dossard 3) fought his way to the front of the peloton, taking the points ahead of two RusVelo riders: Leonid Krasnov (16) and Ivan Kovalev (14).

A breakaway of five riders formed during the second lap, crossing the finish line with a 30 second lead over the peloton. They were Wang Meiyin (China Hope Star), José Luis Roldán (Andalucia), Gabor Kasa (Salcano), Tom Vermeer (Nutrixxion-Abus) and Huang En (Max Success).

Those five built a maximum lead of 1 minute 46 seconds. At the second intermediate sprint, Meiyin led Roldan and Eskov across the line. Anuar maintained his lead in that competition..

With one 23.9km lap to go, the peloton had cut its deficit on the five leaders to 43 seconds. 10 km from the finish, the gap was down to 25 seconds. Tom Vermeer and Wang Meiyin were of the attackers to surrender. A bunch sprint had long been inevitable.

Nick Van Der Lijke (Rabobank Conti, dossard 46) got on Alexandr Serebryakov’s wheel. After the stage, Van Der Lijke said, “He’s already won a lot of stages, so I knew it was a good wheel. But, riding into a head wind, it was too hard to get past, and, in the end, he won it by a bike length.”

Angelo Furlan, third in the first intermediate sprint of the day, was third in the stage. Behind him, Anuar Manan was disappointed with fourth place, but his strategy of attacking the first intermediate sprint of the day, then recovering in time for the stage finish gave him enough points to steal the blue points jersey.

After the stage, Anuar insisted he intends to keep the jersey.

“The points jersey is my main goal, but I know I can beat Serebryakov. He has a team at his disposal, and two or three sprinters who are nearly as fast as he is. I’m working with Aaron Kemps, and we’ll try to come up with a strategy to beat him. Maybe tomorrow…”

To Serebryakov; the points jersey is merely a bonus. “If it comes, it comes, but I want stages. There are two more possible wins, and I want to make it two out of two. If there was no time trial, I’d be looking at the General Classification too. I’m not time-trial specialist, but I’ll ride it hard anyway and see what happens.”

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. 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): Stefan Schumacher (Christina Watches – Onfone)
Points Classification (Blue jersey): Anuar Manan (Champion System Pro Cycling Team)
King of the Mountains Classification (Polka Dot jersey): Serglu Cioban (Tusnad Cycling Team)
Best Great China Rider Classification (White jersey): Kwok Ho Ting (China Hong Kong Team)
Teams General Classification: Australia National Team