Kononenko makes up for Hainan frustrations

Young Aussies Morey and Hindley in contention for overall win

Ukraine's Mykhaylo Kononenko (Kolss) won stage 1 of the sixth Tour of Fuzhou atop the 11.5km uphill finish in Gu Ling, while two up-and-coming Australian climbers, Drew Morey (Terengganu TSG) and Jai Hindley (Mitchelton-Scott), positioned themselves for the overall victory as part of the eight-man front group.

"Up the hill, my teammate Andriy Vasylyuk was setting the pace so I didn't have to, and I kept some strength to win the sprint," Kononenko told Cyclingnews at the finish. "I really wanted to do well today after being disappointed to miss out on the final podium of the Tour of Hainan on Sunday."

On the last day of the Tour of Hainan, Kononenko's teammates from Kolss tried to set him up but lost him in the last curve, while Delko Marseille's Emils Liepins moved up to third thanks to the time bonus for second place.

Kolss was again a dominant team in stage 1 of the Tour of Fuzhou, China’s unconventional stage race, as – unlike the other international cycling events organized in the country – it's not a sprinters' paradise. Looking at the mountains surrounding the capital city of the Fujian province, which is across the strait from Taiwan, attackers in the initial flat part of the race knew their game would be over after the intermediate sprint won by Taiwan's Hsu Hsuan Ping (Action) with 29 kilometres to go.

Oleksandr Polivoda (Kolss) rode away solo from 26km to 14km to go, which forced rival teams to speed up. Colombia's Francisco Colorado (Ningxia) and Stanislau Bazhkou (Minsk) took the lead 8 kilometres before the summit. They were rejoined by Morey after Bazhkou won the first of the two king of the mountains sprints. It became a group of eight leaders with 6.5km to go when Kononenko and Vasylyuk, Hindley, Choy Hiu Fung and Fung Ka Hoo (Hong Kong) bridged across.

The runner-up Bazhkou explained: "Kolss had the advantage of having two riders in the front group. I was alone. Had I had a teammate with me, I would have won for sure. I was faster but I was a bit tired from having sprinted for the two KOM prizes. I came second but we'll see how it goes on the next uphill finish [stage 4 –ed.]. It's harder, so I guess he [Kononenko] will get dropped. Already today he was struggling. After the Tour of Taihu Lake, I trained in Italy under [former Liquigas and Katusha rider Aliaksandr] Kuchynski in the mountains near Lake Garda, so I'm ready to challenge the Ukrainians although they have the speed of the Tour of Hainan in their legs."

The Australians might give them a hard time in the queen stage to Yun Ding on Saturday, as Hindley and Morey are pure climbers in the making. "I'm happy with how I'm going," said Morey, a 20-year-old from Melbourne who won stage 1 in the Tour de Flores in Indonesia in July just after joining Malaysian outfit Terengganu TSG. "The finish was a bit annoying. I kinda didn't take the right line in the last corner and I got boxed in a bit but I'm happy to be in the front group. I was reasonably comfortable to be honest but I've never done this race before so I'm not sure about the climbs or anything. I had to be a little bit conservative with riders I've never raced against before. It's a very good experience."

Brief Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mykhaylo Kononenko (Ukr) Kolss Cycling Team2:32:53 
2Stanislau Bazhkou (Blr) Minsk Cycling Club  
3Drew Morey (Aus) Terengganu Cycling Team  
4Andriy Vasylyuk (Ukr) Kolss Cycling Team  
5Ka Hoo Fung (HKg) Hong Kong, China  
6Jai Hindley (Aus) Mitchelton Scott  
7Francisco Jarley Colorado Hernandez (Col) Ningxia Sports Lottery - Livall Cycling Team  
8Anatoliy Budyak (Ukr) Isd - Jorbi Continental Team0:00:06 
9Hiu Fung Choy (HKg) Hong Kong, China0:00:33 
10Andrii Bratashchuk (Ukr) Kolss Cycling Team0:00:36 
General classification after stage 1
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Mykhaylo Kononenko (Ukr) Kolss Cycling Team2:32:43 
2Stanislau Bazhkou (Blr) Minsk Cycling Club0:00:04 
3Drew Morey (Aus) Terengganu Cycling Team0:00:06 
4Andriy Vasylyuk (Ukr) Kolss Cycling Team0:00:10 
5Ka Hoo Fung (HKg) Hong Kong, China  
6Jai Hindley (Aus) Mitchelton Scott  
7Francisco Jarley Colorado Hernandez (Col) Ningxia Sports Lottery - Livall Cycling Team  
8Anatoliy Budyak (Ukr) Isd - Jorbi Continental Team0:00:16 
9Hiu Fung Choy (HKg) Hong Kong, China0:00:43 
10Andrii Bratashchuk (Ukr) Kolss Cycling Team0:00:46 
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