Zhao Jingbiao of Wisdom-Hengxiang became the first Chinese rider to nab a win in a UCI 2.1-rated race this year at the Tour of Fuzhou on Friday. In front of a huge crowd at LianJiang People's Square, he claimed stage 3 in a reduced sprint ahead of Belarusian Stanislau Bazhkou of Minsk Cycling Club and American Brandon Feehery from Astellas.
Rahim Emami (Pishgaman Giant) retained the yellow jersey of the fifth Tour of Fuzhou ahead of Saturday's queen stage.
"In the last climb, I asked my team-mates to control the pace," Zhao explained after the finish. "I was confident in my capacities for sprinting. I tried my best. I sprinted at a steady pace and once I took the first position after my teammates led me out, there was no change in the ranking."
Pishgaman Giant defended Emami's lead in the 11-km long ascent of Yang Men, summited at km 43. Emami himself was second at the top behind Bazhkou, who controls the polka dot jersey. With 35km remaining, Chinese national champion Ma Guangtong (Wisdom-Hengxiang) and Mauricio Ortega (RTS-Monton) rode clear of the bunch. Ma was reeled in with 17km to go when two select groups of chasers formed just one peloton. Konstantsin Klimiankou of Minsk Cycling Club tried to bridge to Ortega without success, and then Ortega himself was swept up inside the final kilometer.
At the end of a tough stage, it wasn't a standard sprint to the line. "It was a very chaotic one", third-placed Feehery noted. "I was battling with other trains out there trying to get the best wheel. With about 300m to go, I got boxed in and I just found my way out. I ran out of space to compete for first and second places. Zhao won because he had a good lead out. He had multiple teammates and he's a good sprinter."
One of Zhao's lead out men, Wang Meiyin, has secured a contract with Bahrain-Merida for next year. Wisdom-Hengxiang's team manager Li Fuyu, who became China's first Pro Tour rider with Discovery Channel in 2007, predicted Zhao will be the next Chinese rider to join a top-tier team.
Zhao was the Chinese national champion in 2014. "We knew he was fast," Li commented. "He was finishing around 10th in several bunch sprints but he had to get his sprinting right. He did today."
No other Chinese rider had a taken a win in a UCI 2.1-rated race since Wang at the Tour of China last year. China's only international UCI victory in 2016 so far has come from Wisdom-Hengxiang's Liu Jianpeng, who claimed stage 4 of Indonesia's Tour de Flores in May.
"This is a big victory for us", Li appraised. His organization has proven itself to be China's top talent factory in recent years, but for once they don't carry the distinctive jersey of the best rider from Greater China as 22-year-old Nazaerbieke Bieken from Hy Sport-Look leads the ranking ahead of Wang before the decisive stage 4 to Yun Ding.
Emami won atop the same mountain last year. He's expected to successfully defend his yellow jersey Saturday as his Pishgaman team appears significantly superior thus far in the race.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Zhao Jingbiao (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team||3:12:30|
|2||Stanislau Bazhkou (Blr) Minsk Cycling Club|
|3||Brandon Feehery (USA) Astana Pro Team|
|4||Jason Christie (NZl) Kenyan Riders Downunder|
|5||Okcheol Kim (Kor) Seoul Cycling Team|
|6||Hajeon Jung (Kor) Seoul Cycling Team|
|7||Yehor Dementyev (Ukr) ISD - Jorbi Continental Team|
|8||Luke Parker (Aus) Attaque Team Gusto|
|9||Milan Veltman (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team|
|10||Peeter Pruus (Est) Rietumu-Delfin|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Rahim Emami (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team||8:41:58|
|2||Arvin Moazami Godarzi (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team||0:00:13|
|3||Peter Schulting (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team||0:00:16|
|4||Hossaini Reza (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team||0:00:33|
|5||Amir Kolahdouz Hagh (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team||0:00:41|
|6||Hamid Pourhashemi (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team||0:00:47|
|7||Ahad Kazemi (IRI) Tabriz Shahrdari Team||0:01:13|
|8||Francisco Jarley Colorado Hernandez (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|