Iran's Rahim Emami (Pishgaman Giant Team) won Wednesday’s stage 1 of the newly upgraded UCI 2.1 Tour of Fuzhou. Already the overall winner of the Chinese event in 2013 and 2015, Emami prevailed in the uphill finish in Guling atop a rolling 12km-long climb. Only Dutchman Peter Schulting of Parkhotel-Valkenburg managed to hold the pace of the Iranian squad, which put five riders in the top 6.
"Having won this race twice already, I focused a lot on it," Emami told Cyclingnews after the race. "The Tour of Fuzhou suits me well with two uphill finishes. It's an important race because it's the last one of the season. It comes at the time to discuss next year's contract with the sponsors. I prepared for it really well in October with the Tour of Almaty, the Jelajah Malaysia and two races in Iran."
Emami, 35, already won stage 1 at last month's Jelajah Malaysia, where Pishgaman enjoyed the same kind of success, capturing the top 4 positions overall. "Tactically, we took some risks," team manager Seyed Mustafa explained. "In the pre-race meeting, I told my riders to control themselves, let a breakaway go and let other teams do the work. Once the gap reached three minutes, TST [the rival Tabriz Shahrdari Team] rode behind and we got a free ride. Because they thought they could win this race, they worked too much on the flat to catch the five leaders. But we started climbing with six fresh riders."
Siarhei Papok (Minsk Cycling Club), Edward Walsh (Canada national team), Jung Hajeon (Seoul Cycling), Bi Wen Hui (Giant-Champion System) and Dilmurdjon Siddikov (Beijing Innova) got caught climbing the hill that concluded stage 1 after a pan flat circuit in Ma Wei, a district of Fuzhou. Halfway into the climb, five riders from Pishgaman took off with only Schulting able to follow them. "It's a big thing to be the first non-Iranian today," said the Dutchman who finished third. "One of them [Emami] went solo and the others were chasing their own team-mate. They went full gas, swapping turns, but never caught him. They tried to attack me, I was dying in the wheels but I was the one to ride hard at the end and I almost caught the lone leader. Had I known my legs were as good as this, I would have tried to go earlier."
"I expected the Iranians to go so well," Schulting added. "I also rode the Tour of Iran this year. They're impressive."
Despite his team's domination of stage 1, Mustafa was adamant that the Tour of Fuzhou isn't won yet. The five-day event continues with a stage 2 dedicated to the sprinters that runs 126.3km to Chang Le District Sport Center. The queen stage, won last year by Emami in Yu Ding, is scheduled for Saturday.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Rahim Emami (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team||2:40:35|
|2||Arvin Moazami Godarzi (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team||0:00:12|
|3||Peter Schulting (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team|
|4||Hamid Pourhashemi (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team||0:00:17|
|5||Reza Hosseini (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team||0:00:23|
|6||Amir Kolahdouz Hagh (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team||0:00:31|
|7||Ahad Kazemi Sarai (IRI) Tabriz Shahrdari Team||0:01:03|
|8||Hernandez Francisco Jarley Colorado (Col) RTS - Santic Racing Team||0:01:07|
|9||Saeid Safarzadeh (IRI) Tabriz Shahrdari Team||0:01:22|
|10||Sven Luijk (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team||0:01:27|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Rahim Emami (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team||2:40:25|
|2||Arvin Moazami Godarzi (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team||0:00:16|
|3||Peter Schulting (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team||0:00:18|
|4||Hamid Pourhashemi (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team||0:00:27|
|5||Reza Hosseini (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team||0:00:33|
|6||Amir Kolahdouz Hagh (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team||0:00:41|
|7||Ahad Kazemi Sarai (IRI) Tabriz Shahrdari Team||0:01:13|
|8||Hernandez Francisco Jarley Colorado (Col) RTS - Santic Racing Team||0:01:17|
|9||Saeid Safarzadeh (IRI) Tabriz Shahrdari Team||0:01:32|
|10||Sven Luijk (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team||0:01:37|