Brad Evans talks Tour of Hainan – Stage 1

By Aaron S. Lee

The opening stage of the Tour of Hainan is underway after a turbulent week of typhoons, and NZ Bike talks to Kiwi Brad Evans to get the inside scoop on the opening day of racing in China.

Not even mother nature could deter the 2016 Tour of Hainan (UCI 2.HC) from starting on Saturday, October 22, as Brazilian Rafael Andriato (Wilier Triestina) claimed the 88.3km opening stage in Xinglong, China.

The 11th edition of the popular late season UCI Asia Tour road race got underway, thanks in large part to more than 3,000 government personnel who worked tirelessly over the past 72 hours to clear massive amounts of debris strewn across the countryside roads after Typhoon Sarika slammed into China’s southern island province of Hainan on Tuesday.

With clear skies and temperatures hovering around a humid 30 degrees Celsius, riders enjoyed a hot, but short workday with the stage finishing inside two hours (1:55:10).

The win gives the 29-year-old his first victory of the season – fourth of his career. With his 22-year-old teammate Jakub Mareczko (ITA) fresh off a bronze medal at the UCI road race world championships in Doha last week and currently racing the Abu Dhabi Tour (2.HC), Andriato made the most of his chance to shine.

“Mareczko is in Abu Dhabi, so the team gave me the possibility to win here today,” said Andriato after the race. “It's been a long time since I won. The team trusted me as a leader here and I'm very happy to win this first stage.”

In the final, Andriato edged Max Walscheid (Giant-Alpecin) and Italian Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) at the line after successfully overcoming the numbers game in the final three kilometres held by Drapac Pro Cycling and CCC Sprandi Polkowice.

“The last 3km, CCC and Drapac were the strongest teams,” explained the overall race leader. “But with the help of my teammate Mirko Tedeschi (ITA), I was able to find my way to the front and overtake at the line.”
After the stage, NZ Bike caught up with Drapac’s Brad Evans (NZL), who was one of the key riders in delivering team sprinter Brenton Jones (AUS) to the finish line in fourth place, to talk about racing in China and what the Tour de Korea stage winner has been doing since he last checked in during Tour des Fjords (2.1) in early September.

Evans’ diary entry: Stage 1 – Xinglong to Xinglong, 88.3km
Since Tour des Fjords, I have been back in New Zealand after being away for six months in Europe. It was nice being home seeing family and back on local training roads again, especially the infamous ‘Sam's Ride’. 
My form is pretty good, considering I was sick after Fjords and took a full week to recover. I then worked on a lot of sprint- and leadout-based stuff to be ready for the sprint train here in Hainan. The team is changing with some guys stepping up and three at this race retiring, so it’s special to race with many of my teammates one last time.
China is always a bit different, but this race is nice with no transfers. It is a hot one for me coming from Dunedin, so that adds to the challenge. Today was quite nice – a short stage to kick things off. Along the coast, we had a nice view and cool breeze. The final 3km, we had a great leadout. I thought we were in a good position to win, but that’s racing.
We have a good leadout train, and I was happy with my performance leading from 1km to 500m to go. BJ hit out early, but is clearly going well. 
No doubt we will be up there fighting for the win each day. We have a couple guys for GC and BJ for the sprint. There could also be a few days for the breakaway, so we will stay vigilant.
Until next time…
Brad Evans

Photos credit:  Adrian Hoe / Tour of Hainan

Stage 1 Classification
1. Rafael Andriato, BRA, Wilier Triestina, 1:55:10
2. Max Walscheid, GER, Giant-Alpecin, s.t.
3. Roberto Ferrari, ITA, Lampre-Merida, s.t.
General Classification
1. Rafael Andriato, BRA, Wilier Triestina, 1:55:10
2. Max Walscheid, GER, Giant-Alpecin, 0:04
3. Roberto Ferrari, ITA, Lampre-Merida, 0:06
Classification Leaders
Race Leader (Yellow Jersey): Rafael Andriato, BRA, Wilier Triestina
Points Leader (Green Jersey): Rafael Andriato, BRA, Wilier Triestina
Mountains leader (Polka-dot Jersey): Jingbaio Zhao, CHN, Hengxiang Cycling Team
Best Asian Rider (Blue Jersey): Alexey Lutsenko, KAZ, Astana Pro Cycling
Most Aggressive Rider: Lucas De Rossi, FRA, Delko Marseille Provence-KTM
Teams classification:  Lampre-Merida, ITA, 5:45:30

Aaron S. Lee is a pro cycling and triathlon columnist for Eurosport and guest contributor to NZ Bike

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