Franck gives Astellas a dream farewell, Emami wins overall

American wins final stage

US domestic rider Eamon Lucas Franck (Astellas) won the final stage of the Tour of Fuzhou in the pure style of a finisseur, going away from a 6-man breakaway group to beat China’s top cyclist Wang Meiyin, who will join the WorldTour with Barhain-Merida, next year.

Through an intermediate sprint, Peter Schulting of Valkenburg-Parkhotel moved up to third in the overall ranking behind Rahim Emami and Arvin Moazami, both from Pishgaman Giant Team.

“I can’t believe it, I gave my all and my all is the best so it’s good,” Franck said.

“Today was fantastic with the team. We had a plan to ride for Brandon [Feehery] who got third the other day. But when a breakaway went at half way into the stage, the yellow jersey’s team sat up. It was a miracle that we went across with a one and half-minute gap, just the two of us but the legs were good today. The legs have been better every day. Ryan [Aitchesson] worked really well for me in the break.”

The front group was formed after a fierce battle for time bonuses as Schulting needed one second to make the final podium. “Third was the maximum I could do on GC,” the Dutchman told Cyclingnews.

“We controlled the race until the first intermediate sprint but I was fourth in that sprint [stage 2 winner Kim Okcheol from Seoul Cycling passed him for third place as he targeted the green jersey, eventually won by stage 3 winner Zhao Jingbiao of Wisdom-Hengxiang]. Then I tried to attack before the second intermediate and I came second, so that was enough.”

Job done, Schulting went back to the pack while Franck and Aitchesson rejoined Wang Meiyin (Wisdom-Hengxiang), Wang Xin (Hysport-Look), Nuraiman Zariff (Malaysia national team) and Cameron Bayly (Attaque Gusto). At the bell lap, which meant 18.2km to go in the Yongtai Circuit Race, the leaders only had 1:15 of an advantage and only 40 seconds with 12km to go. But the fifth Tour of Fuzhou was definitely not a race for sprinters.

It’s also pretty unusual to see Americans winning in China. “This is great for the team,” Astella’s director Andrew Frey commented.

“It’s the final race for the team, the last day of racing for the team. We’re looking for a new sponsor but we haven’t been able to find one yet, so to finish this way is amazing. It’s unreal. One and half months ago, I got an invite to the race while some riders were starting their off-season but they prepared for it really well. It’s the biggest win of the year. We don’t win road races in the US. In the US, we do criteriums. It’s special to win here. It’s a great experience. Everything has been amazing here.”

It didn’t happen for Wang who was concluding his tenure at Wisdom-Hengxiang.

“It would have been great to win my last race [before joining Bahrain-Merida],” the versatile rider from the Shandong province said. “I’ve attacked as many times as I could but someone passed me before the end and it makes me very unhappy.”

In the meantime, Emami celebrated his third overall victory at the Tour of Fuzhou after wins in 2013 and 2015.

“This year, it was more difficult than last year,” the Iranian said. “There were more stages [five instead of three] and more hard stages too. But my team was also better than last year. It’s a younger team growing nicely. Last year before the final stage, my advantage was only one second but today I was more relaxed with a bigger advantage. Everything has been perfect this year with a superb organization.”

The Tour of Fuzhou aims at becoming a 2.HC race once its promoters will manage to achieve their project of putting the event together half in the Chinese province of Fujian and half in Taiwan on the other side of the strait. “It’s just a question of time and we’ll do it when the time is right,” they said.

Brief Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Eamon Lucas Franck (USA) Astellas Cycling Team2:43:12 
2Meiyin Wang (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team0:00:05 
3Xin Wang (Chn) Hy Sport - Look Continental Cycling0:00:06 
4Shimpei Fukuda (Jpn) Aisan Racing Team0:00:07 
5Shiki Kuroeda (Jpn) Aisan Racing Team  
6Zhao Jingbiao (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team  
7Massimo Graziato (Ita) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team  
8Emils Liepins (Lat) Rietumu-Delfin  
9Brandon Feehery (USA) Astellas Cycling Team  
10Okcheol Kim (Kor) Seoul Cycling Team  
Final general classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Rahim Emami (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team14:50:53 
2Arvin Moazami Godarzi (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team0:00:30 
3Peter Schulting (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team0:00:59 
4Hamid Pourhashemi (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team0:01:00 
5Ahad Kazemi (IRI) Tabriz Shahrdari Team0:01:19 
6Amir Kolahdouz Hagh (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team0:01:26 
7Hossaini Reza (IRI) Pishgaman Giant Team0:02:12 
8Saeid Safarzadeh (IRI) Tabriz Shahrdari Team0:02:23 
9Mauricio Ortega Ramirez (Col) RTS - Santic Racing Team0:02:29 
10Ghader Mizbani Iranagh (IRI) Tabriz Shahrdari Team0:02:33 
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