Tour of Fuzhou: Lyu Xianjing makes history with stage 1 win

20-year-old Chinese climber wins uphill finish in Kuliang

Following his impressive fifth place overall in the Tour of Hainan, Lyu Xianjing (Hengxiang) took the first victory of his career on stage 1 of the Tour of Fuzhou. Lyu outsprinted Ilya Davidenok (Beijing XDS-Innova Cycling Team), Hanibal Tesfay (Eritrea) and Ben Dyball (ST George) atop the 10km long climb to Kuliang.

This is only the second international road race of the 20-year-old mountain biker from the Yunnan province, who is directed by the first ever Chinese WorldTour rider Li Fuyu. He now leads the Tour of Fuzhou by four seconds with four stages remaining.

“I’m very happy to win here today,” Lyu said after the finish. “My hard training and the experience I accumulated in my previous race [the Tour of Hainan] have paid off. I had climbed to Kuliang before, so I was confident in doing something good in this stage, but it was a long climb and I had no idea about the strength of my opponents. It was hard to evaluate the attacks of the other riders and the correct timing for attacking myself. I have trained on bikes for seven years but I’m still new in the game.”

The peloton of 126 riders remained compact until New Zealand’s Dylan Kennett (St George) won the first intermediate sprint, with the points classification in mind. Four riders took off after that: Mel Van der Veekens (Monkey Town), Jiri Nesveda (Sparta Praha), Natnael Tesfazion (Eritrea) and Kim Hyeonseok (Seoul). They got an advantage of 1:30 but successively, Monkey Town, St George and the German national team increased the speed in order to contest the second intermediate sprint after 78km and the winner was Kennett again ahead of Australia’s Toby Orchard.

It came down to a race uphill in the final 10km. Hengxiang’s Chen Mingrun paved the way at the bottom of the climb for his team-mate Lyu, making the race too hard for many of his adversaries. Quickly, the Eritreans outnumbered the other teams and Tesfay rode away solo. Lyu bridged the gap by himself while a chasing trio was formed by Dyball, Davidenok and Yakob Debesay, also from Eritrea.

“With five kilometres to go, I had the impression that we’d never catch the two riders up front,” Davidenok told Cyclingnews. “We eventually did it three kilometres before the end but my power was finished. Everyone wanted to recover before the sprint. I followed the Eritrean and I was confident I could beat him, but I was surprised to see the Chinese rider coming from behind.”

Lyu became the second Chinese rider to win a stage since the inception of the Tour of Fuzhou in 2012. Out of 23 stages contested so far, only Zhoa Jingbiao, also from Hengxiang, had claimed a stage win back in 2016.

“I’m really surprised,” his sport director Li said. “He’s super strong but he’s very young. The team worked for him today. I told him to forget about the KOM jersey although he won it at the Tour of Hainan but follow all the moves at the end and sprint from behind the other breakaway riders.”

Lyu turned down the interviews to Chinese media before the race. “I didn’t have much to say without any good results,” he justified after the race. “Today’s performance doesn’t mean I’ve reached the maximum of my capacities yet. I have to keep working and learning. I will continue to try and do my best in the next four stages.”

Stage 1 might have been the queen stage this year, as stage 4 isn’t as hard on paper due to the iconic hill to Yunding being scrapped this time around due to roadworks. In the past, Hengxiang has led the Tour of Hainan with Wang Meiyin who is now with Bahrain-Merida but it’ll be a new experience for their young guns to defend Lyu’s yellow jersey over the four remaining stages.

Brief Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Xianjing Lyu (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team2:31:31 
2Ilya Davidenok (Kaz) Beijing XDS - Innova Cycing Team  
3Hanibal Gebresilasie (Eri) Eritrea  
4Benjamin Dyball (Aus) St George Continental Cycling Team0:00:03 
5Yakob Abreham (Eri) Eritrea0:00:27 
6Natnael Mebrahtom (Eri) Eritrea0:00:33 
7Marko Pavlič (Slo) H&R Block Pro Cycling Team0:00:34 
8Nur Amirull Fakhruddin Mazuki (Mas) Terengganu Cycling Team0:01:09 
9Maarten De Jonge (Ned) Monkey Town Continental Team  
10Mykhaylo Kononenko (Ukr) Beijing XDS - Innova Cycing Team  
General Classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Xianjing Lyu (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team2:31:21 
2Ilya Davidenok (Kaz) Beijing XDS - Innova Cycing Team0:00:04 
3Hanibal Gebresilasie (Eri) Eritrea0:00:06 
4Benjamin Dyball (Aus) St George Continental Cycling Team0:00:13 
5Yakob Abreham (Eri) Eritrea0:00:37 
6Natnael Mebrahtom (Eri) Eritrea0:00:43 
7Marko Pavlič (Slo) H&R Block Pro Cycling Team0:00:44 
8Nur Amirull Fakhruddin Mazuki (Mas) Terengganu Cycling Team0:01:19 
9Maarten De Jonge (Ned) Monkey Town Continental Team  
10Mykhaylo Kononenko (Ukr) Beijing XDS - Innova Cycing Team  

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