Ten years after Damiano Cunego opened his record book as a professional cyclist by winning the second edition of the Tour of Qinghai in China, the eighth Tour of Hainan has crowned a champion in the making with neo-pro Moreno Hofland (Belkin Pro Cycling). The 22-year-old Dutchman claimed three stages and the overall classification in a race he led from the opening day throughto the stage 9 finale. His team dominated affairs at the 2.HC-rated stage race, winning all of the stages, the general classification, the points classification as well as the team classification.
"It's good to go to my winter break with such a good feeling," said Hofland, a resident of Roosendaal, after the last stage in Chengmai Old Town. "In the first couple of days at the Tour of Hainan I started thinking that it would be nice to win this race. I chased time bonuses and my gap to the second [place] rider on GC [Belgium's Frédéric Amorison] kept growing, so I made it! I'm very happy. The Tour of Hainan will always be special for me because it'll remain my first pro win forever.
"I'm on the right way to being a good rider, I hope," Hofland added. Not only has Hofland impressed at the Tour of Hainan but he also collected top 3 finishes in stages at the Presidential Tour of Turkey, the Tour of Denmark, the Tour of Alberta and the Tour of Beijing during his debut pro season.
He also revealed why he's got an Italian first name: "I'm Moreno because of [1986 world champion] Moreno Argentin. My dad was a big fan of him and Italian champions in general."
Peter Hofland, now 54, was a good cyclist himself albeit not a professional like his elder son now. Racing under the colors of the Dutch national team, he finished fifth in stage 10 of Paris-Nice in 1984. He won the Hel van het Mergelland and the Omloop der Kempen, and came fourteenth in the amateur world championship in Altenrhein, Switerland, in 1983.
"I started cycling with him when I was fourteen," Moreno said. "He was no longer a competitive cyclist but still passionate about fun rides."
The young Hofland never met Argentin but knows about his three victories in Liège-Bastogne-Liège. "My ultimate goal in cycling is to win a big Classic as well," he said. "I've enjoyed doing Quebec and Montreal this year. Races like the Tour of Flanders are the best in the world. That's something for my future.
"I'm not completely sure of what kind of rider I can become yet. I'm fast but I'm more of a sprinter for uphill finishes, like John Degenkolb, not for flat sprints like Theo Bos who is faster than me. In the hills like at Liège-Bastogne-Liège, I normally go well."
Hofland has a younger brother, aged 20. Also a cyclist, he's fast as well and good at criteriums. His name is Fausto and it's not too difficult to guess which other Italian cycling legend Peter Hofland admires.