Daily Diary: Jason Christie talks Tour of Qinghai Lake - Stage 4

By Aaron S Lee

It was another hors catégorie day in the saddle for reigning New Zealand road race champion Jason Christie, who talks about the namesake stage exclusively with NZ Bike.

QINGHAI LAKE, China—Ukrainian Vitaliy Buts (Kolss-BDC) outsprinted Slovenian Matej Mugerli (Synergy Baku Cycling Project) to claim the 147km namesake stage of the 15th ‘Qinghai Rural Credit Cup’ Tour of Qinghai Lake on Wednesday, July 20.

Admittedly exhausted after racing across the second hors catégorie climb in as many days, with this one 31km in length and reaching a slightly lower elevation (3,766m) than the day before (3,782m). Buts told media after the race he was inspired to fight on when his teammate and countryman Mykhaylo Kononenko, who finished third, joined him in the final.

“At the end, I was a tired, but I had Kononenko with me it made me want to win stage,” said Buts, who finished second in the Ukrainian national road race last month.

With more stages at altitude remaining in the 13-stage, 1,916-kilometre unofficial ‘fourth grand tour’ of cycling, Buts insists he is not done fighting.

“There are still some more mountain stages,” he said. “But we will try with team tactics to go with the team to the finish.”

For reigning New Zealand road race champion, it was another long day in the saddle. The 25-year-old South Islander sat down NZ Bike to talk about cycling and scenery on his fourth day of racing in China.

Christie’s diary entry: Stage 4 – Guide to Qinghai Lake, 147km
Rolling out today I didn't feel great, so instead of trying to get in a break I thought I'd try save myself until the hill as it started around 25km into the stage. I actually expected the race to be similar to yesterday in a way with a break not going up the road, but from the gun a break established.

As expected on the climb, the race blew to pieces. It really is a struggle if you've come from training at sea level to racing at these altitudes I can tell you. Nothing compares to training at altitude or even racing to altitude, so in future I think I'd go to a place high up somewhere to train before racing a race like this.

The front group had maybe 50 riders in it, some of which I hear held onto cars to make it into that group? If so, that it's a shame that maybe 50 percent of today's front group held onto cars to get there. It's disappointing, even having guys cheat to make it into our second group of the day. To do it to this extent you wonder how these guys actually race bikes. They go out and ruin the results for the us that actually race 100 percent.

Anyway, I was in the second group on the road with another 60 or so riders. We basically just rode to the finish and that was that. It was surprisingly enjoyable being able to take in more of the scenery today, including part of the massive Qinghai Lake, which we will race around on tomorrow’s stage.
The experience here has been good from the race perspective. The hotels are good, food is good and even the weather has been good. I should also say that the race organisers have been fantastic and everything is really well organised here.

Obviously, I still want a stage win, so let's see. However, I might need some more air before I can start thinking about that.

Until then, stay tuned…
-Jason Christie

Stage 4 Classification
1. Vitaliy Buts, UKR, Kolss-BDC, 4:01:51
2. Matej Mugerli, SLO, Synergy Baku Cycling Project, s.t.
3. Mykhaylo Kononenko, UKR, Kolss-BDC, s.t.

General Classification
1. Vitaliy Buts, UKR, Kolss-BDC, 13:09:55
2. Miguel Rubiano, COL, China Continental Team of Gansu Bank, 0:12”
3. Mykhaylo Kononenko, UKR, Kolss-BDC, 0:16”

Classification Leaders
Race Leader (Yellow Jersey): Vitaliy Buts, UKR, Kolss-BDC
Points Leader (Green Jersey): Vitaliy Buts, UKR, Kolss-BDC
Mountains leader (Polka Dot Jersey): Mauricio Ortega, COL, RTS-Santic
Best Asian Rider (Blue Jersey): Yevgeniy Gidich, KAZ, Vino 4ever SKO
Most Aggressive: Zhishan Zhang, CHN, Qinghai Tianyoude Cycling Team
Teams classification: Kolss-BDC, 39:31:06

Aaron S. Lee is a cycling and triathlon columnist for Eurosport and a guest contributor to NZ Bike Magazine. Image credit Adrian Hoe / Tour of Qinghai Lake.
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