Brad Evans talks Tour of Hainan – Stage 4

By Aaron S. Lee

Nearly half of the nine stages are now in the books with 23-year-old German Max Walscheid (Giant-Alpecin) making it two victories in a row with a stage 4 win in DanZhou on Tuesday, October 25.

“It was not an easy win today,” admitted Walscheid following the 159.4km stage from ChengMai to DanZhou on China’s southern island province of Hainan. “I was under a lot of pressure because my team worked extremely hard to get the breakaway back.

“It was a strong group and in the end we had to work really hard, and there was no other option than to win and give it back to the team.”

Italian Roberto Ferrari (Lampre-Merida) recorded his third podium of the race after finishing second ahead of Adrian Kurek (CCC Sprandi Polkowice) and stage 3 runner up Andrea Pasqualon (Team Roth). 

The race featured three 6.4km city circuits capped by a category 4 climb at the 22km mark. Two-time ‘Most Aggressive Rider’ recipient Lucas De Rossi (Delko Marseille Provence-KTM) finished second to Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) in a field scramble to the top, which gave the 21-year-old former mountain biker just enough points to slip into the polka-dot jersey in his first professional road race. Lutsenko sits just one-point behind De Rossi tied with previous mountains classification leader Jingbaio Zhao (Wisdom-Hengxiang).

“The idea was to get in the breakaway because I already had points for the KOM classification, so I want to enjoy the first classified climb to get more points and get the KOM,” explained De Rossi after the race. “But no break went before the climb, so it was a field sprint and I enjoyed very good work from my team to get two points and the jersey.”

Lutsenko sits just one-point behind De Rossi tied with previous mountains classification leader Jingbaio Zhao (Wisdom-Hengxiang).

“I have one clear goal to get as many points as possible to keep jersey,” said De Rossi. “My condition is good and I feel good, so let’s hope to keep it that way.”

As with the previous three stages, a multi-rider break was on the attack. After a flurry of failed attempts, a group of eight successfully launched 35km into the race.

Bernard Sulzberger (Drapac), Taras Voropayev (Vino 4-ever SKO), Sofiane Mérignat (Delko Marseille Provence-KTM), Brian Kamstra (Novo Nordisk) and a pair of Funvic Soul Cycles-Carrefour riders, Alex Dinez and Carlos Manarelli, as well as two CCC cyclists, Piotr Brożnya and Patryk Stosz, led the charge.
Kamstra took the first intermediate sprint bonus, followed by Stosz and Sulzberger at 37km, before dropping off moments later. The remaining seven riders would extend their lead to 3:50 after 69km of racing before the gap began to close.

Stosz claimed the second sprint bonus ahead of Sulzberger to earn him the ‘Aggressive Rider’ award dominated by De Rossi in the first three stages.

Only Stosz and Dinez remained, but a time gap of 35 seconds with 15km remaining was simply not enough to escape the surging peloton.

With the win, Walscheid holds on to both the yellow leaders jersey and green points jersey for another day, with a slight gap over Ferrari (+0:12) and stage 1 winner and former race leader Rafael Andriato (+0:16).

Ferrari and Andriato also trail the points leader by six and 11 points respectively.

Evans’ diary entry: Stage 4 – ChengMai to DanZhou, 159.4km 

We take our food seriously in this team, especially with so many products hard to get in China. No one eats the meat, so for protein everyone has brought an adornment of tuna, beans, beef jerky, etc. 
Best variety probably belongs to our Dutch rider Peter Koning, with sausage, meatballs and lots of Dutch goodies. We are quite the multi-national team with one of our soigneurs being from Iran, and keeping us supplied with quality nougat. 

As far as the race is concerned, it was another day with a big break, followed by a long chase and a big sprint finish. This time we were met with a dodgy finish due to a strong downhill tailwind. The roads were slick as it started raining with 2km to go, so the brakes weren't working at all. 

We did a good job as a team reaching the last 2000m, but our sprinter Brenton Jones (AUS) and his leadout man Graeme Brown (AUS) got lost. I was at the front with a kilometer to go, but knew they weren't there. I then got swamped and eventually had a small run on the right for a top 20 finish myself. Tomorrow we line up and do it again.

Until next time…
Brad Evans

Stage 4 Classification
1. Max Walscheid, GER, Team Giant-Alpecin, 3:45:04
2. Roberto Ferrari, ITA, Lampre-Merida, s.t.
3. Adrian Kurek, POL, CCC Sprandi Polkowice, s.t.

General Classification
1. Max Walscheid, GER, Team Giant-Alpecin, 16:22:22
2. Roberto Ferrari, ITA, Lampre-Merida, 0:12
3. Rafael Andriato, BRA, Wilier Triestina-Southeast, 0:16

Classification Leaders
Race Leader (Yellow Jersey): Max Walscheid, GER, Team Giant-Alpecin
Points Leader (Green Jersey): Max Walscheid, GER, Team Giant-Alpecin
Mountains leader (Polka-dot Jersey): Lucas De Rossi, FRA, Delko Marseille Provence-KTM
Best Asian Rider (Blue Jersey): Ruslan Tleubayev, KAZ, Astana Pro Team
Most Aggressive Rider: Patryk Stosz, POL, CCC Sprandi Polkowice
Teams classification:  Astana Pro Team, KAZ, 49:08:24
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