Daily Diary: Jason Christie talks Tour of Qinghai Lake – Stage 13

By Aaron S Lee

It’s a wrap at the 15th ‘Qinghai Rural Credit Cup’ Tour of Qinghai Lake for Jason Christie, and the reigning New Zealand road race champion gives NZ Bike the scoop.

BAIYIN, China—In just under two hours (1:58:40), Polish-born Italian sprinter Jakub Mareczko (Wilier Triestina-Southeast) claimed his third stage win of the 15th ‘Qinghai Rural Credit Cup’ Tour of Qinghai Lake (UCI 2.HC).

The 22-year-old outsprinted the race’s second all-time stage winner Marko Kump (Lampre-Merida) and Marco Benfatto (Androni Giocattoli-Spidermec) on the 95km Baiyin circuit race to close the 13-stage, 1,916km UCI Asia Tour road race on Saturday, July 30.

“This race is so very important to my career,” Mareczko explained to NZ Bike. “To finish a race of this distance and altitude will only make me a better rider for the future and to come away with three stage wins makes me very happy.”

Mareczko will now turn his attention toward racing in Europe before returning to China to race the Tour of Hainan (2.HC) in October and the  Ukrainian Sergiy Lagkuti (Kolss-BDC), who won stage 6 and lifted the yellow leaders jersey from teammate and compatriot Vitaliy Buts after finishing third in the stage 12 individual time trial, ended the race atop general classification to win his second stage race of 2016, including the Tour of Ukraine (2.2) last month.

Buts held the yellow jersey since stage 3, as well as the points jersey since his stage 4 win until eventual green jersey winner Daniele Colli (Nippo-Vini Fantini) took it from him on stage 11.

“I am very lucky today to finish the Tour of Qinghai Lake in the yellow jersey,” said Lagkuti. “The team now is all very tired. We will absolutely celebrate the yellow jersey, but in which way to celebrate we are still not sure.”

Colombian Mauricio Ortega (RTS-Santic) owned the mountains classification since day the opening KOM, while two-time stage winner Yevgeniy Gidich (Vino 4ever SKO) claimed the blue jersey for the best Asian rider.

After two weeks of racing, including spending the last three stages animating the race, it’s time for the reigning New Zealand road race champion Jason Christie (Kenyan Riders Downunder) to call it a tour and head home. But not before the 25-year-old Christchurch native shares his scoop on stage 13 exclusively with NZ Bike.

Christie’s diary entry: Stage 13 – Baiyin Circuit Race, 95km
It was the final day of the 2016 Tour of Qinghai Lake. After enjoying the buffet brekky and kitting up, we rolled out 1km down the road from the hotel about 30 minutes before the 10am start.

The final stage was to be raced on just under a 12km circuit with a total of eight laps to be completed in the 95km stage. The weather was tops yet again. To have only two pretty average days in a 13-stage race is one of the luxuries of Asia Tour you could say.

Anyway, coming here I wanted to be ambitious, but I never expected the altitude to affect the body as it did while racing the first week. I just had nothing. Since going down below 2000m this last week, the feeling has been good again and I was definitely going to try to see if any rein was given to me today.

The stage kicked off and was fast from the gun. A break formed and had a lead of around 50 seconds at most. Between the halfway mark and the finish, I tried several times to break but straight away the sprint teams closed it down.

The stage did come down to a bunch kick as expected, and was under 2 hours of riding with an average speed of 48km/h. The stage was won by Jakub Mareczko (ITA) of Wilier Triestina-Southeast (PCT) – his third of the tour.

Overall, it's been a good tour and it's gone by almost too fast. It would've been nice to get more out of here results-wise, but coming from sea level training to racing at altitude that first week where more opportunities could've been possible was more of a struggle if anything.

Now to relax for the avo before the big journey begins to head home. Thanks for reading my daily dairy at NZ Bike, I've really enjoyed giving some insight to the racing here.
Until next time, stay tuned…
Jason Christie

Stage 13 Classification
1. Jakub Mareczko, ITA, Wilier Triestina-Southeast, 1:58:40
2. Marko Kump, SLO, Lampre-Merida, s.t.
3. Marco Benfatto, ITA, Androni Giocattoli-Spidermec, s.t.

General Classification
1. Sergiy Lagkuti, UKR, Kolss-BDC, 53:42:58
2. Matej Mugerli, SLO, Synergy Baku Cycling Project, 0:37
3. Vitaliy Buts, UKR, Kolss-BDC 1:00

Classification Leaders
Race Leader (Yellow Jersey): Sergiy Lagkuti, UKR, Kolss-BDC
Points Leader (Green Jersey): Daniele Colli, ITA, Nippo-Vini Fantini
Mountains leader (Polka Dot Jersey): Mauricio Ortega, COL, RTS-Santic
Best Asian Rider (Blue Jersey): Yevgeniy Gidich, KAZ, Vino 4ever SKO
Teams classification: Kolss-BDC, 131:13:08

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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