Daily Diary: Jason Christie talks Tour of Qinghai Lake – Stage 1

By Aaron S Lee

Reigning New Zealand road race champion starts the ‘unofficial’ fourth grand tour and tells NZ Bike all about the opening stage.

XINING, China—Christchurch native Jason Christie has been on a tear since winning the New Zealand road race championship in January. The 25-year-old finished with two top 10s at the New Zealand Cycle Classic (UCI 2.2) – 11th overall, and then claimed stage wins at both International Tour de Banyuwangi Ijen (2.2) and Tour de Flores (2.2).

The 2011 national time trial champion joined the African Continental team Kenyan Riders Downunder following a year with former New Zealand-registered Avanti-IsoWhey Sports, which has once again registered in Australia.

On Sunday, Christie found himself signing on while wearing his national champion jersey for the start of the 15th Qinghai Rural Credit Cup’ Tour of Qinghai Lake (UCI 2.HC) in Xining, China, on Saturday.

After a solo break lasting 90km was caught with 3km to go, Colombian Miguel Rubiano (China Continental Team of Gansu Bank) avoided a massive pileup inside the final 2km that brought half the peloton to the ground to claim the bunch sprint over Italian Daniele Colli (Nippo-Vini Fantini) and Dutchman Remco Te Brake (Parkhotel-Valkenburg CT) and slip into the overall lead.

NZ Bike caught up with Christie afterwards to get his thoughts on the opening stage.

Christie’s diary entry: Stage 1 – Xining Circuit, 113km
I was excited coming to China with my Kenyan Riders Downunder team to race the 15th Tour of Qinghai Lake. I’ve heard a lot of great things about both the country and the race. So far, both have lived up to expectations.

Today was the opening stage, and was fast, which I was 99 percent sure would come down to a bunch kick. We were lucky weather was on our side with the drizzle clearing up from the morning, otherwise it would've been an ice skating rink around that circuit.

We unfortunately lost a rider, Morgan Smith (NZL), in the first lap due to a crash with a motorbike – yes another one! Have no idea how Morgan is at the moment. I think he is okay, but haven't seen him yet. Pretty unreal, came round the corner and just seen a motorbike, then a rider underneath. I couldn't tell who it was at first, but once I saw it was my teammate in the bunch, I worked out who was missing. Hope he is okay.

Afterwards a two-rider break went clear, which resulted in just one rider, Mauricio Ortega (RTS-Santic Racing Team), being out there for the most of the day until we slowly brought the time down in the final kilometres.

Through the last lap I was disgusted with how one of the Nippo-Vini Fantini riders was riding. For no reason in the middle of the peloton number 14 starts throwing hooks? With 2km remaining the bunch was going full tilt into the finish at about 70km/h when a spectator walked out and caused what can only be described as a horrific crash.

I actually got caught up in it. I was moving up the left side and everyone started going down in front of me. I managed to leave a decent black mark on the road and only fall as I was coming to a stop.
I jumped up right away and rode to the finish
That was that.
-Jason Christie

Stage 1 classification
1. Miguel Rubiano, COL, China Continental Team of Gansu Bank, 2:20:26
2. Daniele Colli, ITA, Nippo-Vini Fantini, s.t.
3. Remco Te Brake, NED, Parkhotel-Valkenburg CT, s.t.

General Classification
1. Miguel Rubiano, COL, China Continental Team of Gansu Bank
2. Daniele Colli, ITA, Nippo-Vini Fantini, 0:00”
3. Remco Te Brake, NED, Parkhotel-Valkenburg CT, 0:00”

Classification Leaders
Race Leader (Yellow Jersey): Miguel Rubiano, COL, China Continental Team of Gansu Bank
Points Leader (Green Jersey): Miguel Rubiano, COL, China Continental Team of Gansu Bank
Best Asian Rider (Blue Jersey): Zengtao Yang, CHN, China Continental Team of Gansu Bank
Most Aggressive: Mauricio Ortega, COL, RTS-Santic Racing Team
Best Team: China Continental Team of Gansu Bank, 2:20:26

Aaron S. Lee is a cycling and triathlon columnist for Eurosport and a guest contributor to NZ Bike Magazine.  Image Credit: Adrian Hoe.
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