When Sacha Modolo today won his sixth stage in this year s Tour of Qinghai Lake, he joined an exclusive club of riders who have achieved the same feat in a single race. With a final stage remaining, he could become the first rider to ever win seven stages in one edition of an AsiaTour stage race.
IMAGES: Mokhriz Aziz (UCI AsiaTour photographer) + Tour of Qinghai Lake 2013
Modolo s efforts in central China during the last fortnight could reasonably be compared to the total sprint dominance of Andrea Guardini (then riding for Farnese Vini Selle Italia, now with ProTeam Astana) at last year s Tour de Langkawi (2.HC, Malaysia). Both Italians, Modolo and Guardini are now the only two professional cyclists who can boast a six-stage haul. Others have come close the all-round brilliant display by Korean Sung Baek Park to take five out of nine stages at the 2007 Tour de Korea (2.2) springs to mind but, with few AsiaTour stage races lasting for more than one week, the opportunities to achieve such a result remain extremely limited.
On the other hand, Modolo s superior finishing ability has somewhat neutered the day-to-day suspense inherent to stage racing. Coupled with the fact that Iran s Mirsamad Pourseyedi Golakhour (Tabriz Petrochemical Team) has been all but assured of permanently retaining his leader s yellow jersey since opening up a gap of almost one minute over Continental Team Astana s Yevegniy Nepomnyachshiy during stage 7, the latter half of this race has, for the most part, felt frustratingly ceremonial.
A seven-man break consisting of Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida), Mattia Pozzo (Vini Fantini Selle Italia), Tim Mikelj (Sava), Floris Goesinnen (Drapac Cycling), Claudio Imhof (Atlas Personal Jakroo), John Ebsen (Synergy Baku Cycling Project), and Wu Sheng Jun (Qinghai Tianyoude) offered a glimmer of hope that today might finish a little differently from previous stages especially given Ebsen was the highest on GC, 7 50 down in 24th. Not in the break s favour though was Modolo s appetite for another stage win.
Enroute to a maximum 1 40 lead, Pozzo led through all three intermediate sprints even after securing 15 points, he remained 101 points behind Modolo in the points classification before the peloton s generosity ran out, with the lead group captured within the final 15km. Pozzo s teammate Mauro Finetto (Vini Fantini Selle Italia) beginning the stage in 16th place, 3 08 down on GC and Mark Dzamastagic (Sava) countered. Finetto needed to gain forty seconds on the peloton to break into the top 10, but the fact this would require leap-frogging the road captains of six other teams ultimately brought about his undoing at 2km to go. Try as he might, Lampre-Merida s Max Richeze registered yet another second place, sandwiched between Modolo and Continental Team Astana s Marco Benfatto; whose third place elevated him to third-equal position on the overall points classification.
Tomorrow s final stage, a 96km circuit race in Lanzhou (Gansu Province), starts 10:00 local time (02:00 GMT), Saturday, 20 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 12 RESULTS
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION AFTER STAGE TWELVE