Daily Diary: Brad Evans talks Tour of Hainan – Stage 6

By Aaron S. Lee

Lampre’s Mohoric wins the stage, Astana’s Lutsenko takes the lead and Drapac’s ailing Brad Evans tells NZ Bike all about his day in the saddle.

WUZHISHAN, China—The 2016 Tour of Hainan (UCI 2.HC) was expecting a shakeup on stage 6 when the race headed for the mountains and two category 1 climbs – and the day delivered.

As expected, stage 6 came down to the final ascent inside 20km to go, with climbing specialists Mauricio Ortega (RTS-Monton), Przemyslaw Niemiec (Lampre-Merida) and Alexey Lutsenko (Astana) all battling it out up and over the KOM summit toward the finish in Wuzhishan, China, on Thursday, October 27.

Ortega (COL), who initiated the assault at the base of the climb, was unable to stay with Lutsenko (KAZ) and Niemiec (POL), who carved down the descent with surgical precision. The 36-year-old Colombian, who won the Tour of Qinghai Lake (2.HC) mountains classification in July, was unceremoniously dropped before being bypassed by a surging Mohoric.

“We were in a small group, maybe 30 seconds back, and I attacked to the top,” explained Mohoric. “I really went for it.

“It was a fast descent and when I caught the third guy that was dropped, I went straight by because I didn’t want to bring him back to the front.”

The 22-year-old former Cannondale rider credits his teammates, most specifically Niemiec for the victory.

“I tried to attack Lutsenko when I caught the break, but it didn’t work out,” he admitted. “Lutsenko counterattacked and Niemiec brought me back to Lutsenko’s wheel and we won the sprint first and second.

“It’s my first win as a professional, so I am pretty happy,” Mohoric continued. “I can’t be grateful enough for the team who did a great job today. We are having a great tour and are hoping to keep it that way until the end.”

Lutsenko has been ‘Mr Consistency’ all week, proving he can both sprint and climb with the best Hainan has to offer. The 2012 under-23 UCI road race world champion currently holds the polka-dot mountains jersey, and with the third-place finish behind his Lampre rivals moves to the top of the general classification (GC), thus lifting the yellow leaders jersey from 23-year-old German sprinter Max Walscheid (Giant-Alpecin), who had won the three previous stages.

With only three days remaining, a lot can happen between now and the final stage finish in Xinglong on Sunday, but Lutsenko’s success across both sprint and climbing stages may make even a 3-second lead hard to overcome.

“Tomorrow is another sprint stage, which will be a good opportunity for [Roberto] Ferrari (ITA),” Przemyslaw told Eurosport. “But sprints are not very good for me or Matej. We will do our best to keep time and fight for GC on the eighth stage, which features more climbs and maybe our only real opportunity to take the yellow jersey.”

For reigning Tour of Southland champion Brad Evans (Drapac), it was a hard day in the saddle. The South Island native braved a nasty bug to see the stage to the end. NZ Bike caught up with the 24-year-old Tour of Korea stage winner to get his take on the day…

Evans’ diary entry: Stage 6 – Changjiang to Wuzhishan, 197.2km
Today was an absolute sufferfest … was on the back of a hiding. Hot, dehydrated and very sick with a fever, chest infection and sore head. Hey, it happens sometimes.
The climbs weren't overly hard compared to some in Europe. Nice, wide and very smooth, so it was a fast two climbs. I suffered over the first one and just cruised in on second after doing my turn. The main difficultly is climbing in the heat I'd say.
I actually contributed in the final leading the last 5k to bottom of the climb. Although I went very deep to make that happen.
In end Bernie Sulzberger (AUS) didn't make it over with the front group, so back to some leadouts in next days with red train in an effort to support our team sprinter Brenton Jones (AUS).
I am able to fight on. It’s a short day tomorrow, so I will try to do my best to stay in the race and contribute where I can.
Until next time…
Brad Evans

Image credit Adrian Hoe / Tour of Hainan

Stage 6 Classification
1. Matej Mohoric, SLO, Lampre-Merida, 5:21:35
2. Przemyslaw Niemiec, POL, Lampre-Merida, s.t.
3. Alexey Lutsenko, KAZ, Astana Pro Team, s.t.
General Classification
1. Alexey Lutsenko, KAZ, Astana Pro Team, 26:14:02
2. Matej Mohoric, SLO, Lampre-Merida, 0:03
3. Przemyslaw Niemiec, POL, Lampre-Merida, 0:07
Classification Leaders
Race Leader (Yellow Jersey): Alexey Lutsenko, KAZ, Astana Pro Team
Points Leader (Green Jersey): Max Walscheid, GER, Team Giant-Alpecin
Mountains leader (Polka-dot Jersey): Alexey Lutsenko, KAZ, Astana Pro Cycling
Best Asian Rider (Blue Jersey): Alexey Lutsenko, KAZ, Astana Pro Team
Most Aggressive Rider: Guangtong Ma, CHN, Wisdom-Hengxiang Cycling Team
Teams classification:  Lampre-Merida, ITA, 78:43:35

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