Daily Diary: Jason Christie talks Tour of Qinghai Lake – Stage 9

By Aaron S Lee

The Tour of Qinghai is back in business after a well-deserved rest day, and reigning New Zealand champion Jason Christie gives NZ Bike the scoop on the 100km Tianshui circuit race.

TIANSHUI, China—The typically stoic Slovenian Marko Kump (Lampre-Merida) managed to crack a smile through his soot-covered face following a stage 9 win over previous stage winner Nicolas Marini (Nippo-Vini Fantini) in the second straight photo finish of the15th ‘Qinghai Rural Credit Cup’ Tour of Qinghai Lake (UCI 2.HC).

Only 115 of the original 157 riders rolled up to the start following the race’s only rest day to compete in the eight-lap (12.5km per lap), 100km circuit in Tianshui, China, on Tuesday, July 26.

Last year’s points champion and five-time stage winner picked up his first win of the season since joining Lampre-Merida from Slovenian-registered UCI Continental team Adria-Mobil (CT) prior the Santos Tour Down Under (2.UWT) in January.

The victory gives the Italian WorldTour team its second win of the 13-stage, 1,916km UCI Asia Tour road race after 22-year-old Italian Federico Zurlo won stage 7 on Saturday.
Ukrainian Vitaliy Buts (Kolss-BDC) maintains his grip on both the yellow leaders jersey and the green points jersey, with teammate and stage 6 winner Sergiy Lagkuti (UKR) in second place overall, one second behind Buts.

Colombian Mauricio Ortega (RTS-Santic) has all but wrapped up the mountains classification, while two-time stage winner Yevgeniy Gidich (Vino 4ever SKO) reclaims the blue jersey for best Asian rider after teammate and countryman Zhandos Bizhigitov abandoned the race on the second to last lap.

For reigning New Zealand road race champion Jason Christie (Kenyan Riders Downunder) it was a short, but dirty day at the office and the 25-year-old South Islander from Christchurch tells NZ Bike all about it.

Christie’s diary entry: Stage 9 – Tianshui Circuit Race, 100km
Today we were greeted to rain upon a relatively early wake up here in Tianshui. Stage 9 was to kick off at 9am just a couple of kilometres from the hotel where we've spent the past two nights. After eating brekky and kitting up, we made our way down to the start of a 12.5km circuit, which was to be completed eight times for a total of 100km.

Even though the rain had stopped by the time we started the roads were wet for the entire race, made worse towards the end of it with light rain coming down once again. The circuit was pretty horrible in terms of manholes everywhere and some pretty heavy grit/stones on the course that gave quite a few riders punctures throughout the stage.

Despite the wet, or you could say muddy road (yes, we all looked like we had been digging trenches to China as the saying goes), the peloton rode safely to negotiate the corners on each end of the circuit which took laps around a river pretty much.

The stage was always going to come down to a bunch sprint and eventually did play out as expected. We actually finished the stage in two hours flat. To finish by 11am is something rather nice especially given our stagetomorrow will be a decent six hours long for the 240km race and followed up by another super long, possibly six hour (440km) transfer.

There are four more days left here now and more transfer kilometres than race kilometres. All is fairly good here though apart from the food, think it's time they changed up their menu!
Until next time, stay tuned…
-Jason Christie

Stage 9 Classification
1. Marko Kump, SLO, Lampre-Merida, 2:00:13
2. Martin Haring, SVK, Dukla Banska Bystrica, s.t.
3. Yevgeniy Gidich, KAZ, Vino 4ever SKO, s.t.

General Classification
1. Vitaliy Buts, UKR, Kolss-BDC, 33:05:04
2. Sergiy Lagkuti, UKR, Kolss-BDC, 0:01
3. Alberto Cecchin, ITA, Team Roth, 0:22

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: Connor McCutcheon, USA, Team Illuminate
Teams classification: Kolss-BDC, 99:19:13

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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