Dutchman Ivar Slik (Monkey Town) was the third rider to claim his maiden pro victory in three days of racing at the 2018 Tour of Fuzhou, following the path of Chinese sensation Lyu Xianjing and Germany’s Leon Rohde.
Slik’s two breakaway companions Ilya Davidenok (Beijing XDS-Innova) and Ben Dyball (St George) moved up to first and second places. Lyu bravely defended his overall lead in a rain soaked day in Liang Jiang but missed out on bringing the main group across by fifteen seconds in the thrilling finale of a short but demanding stage.
“I’m very happy to get a pro win in this beautiful race”, Slik said. “I looked at the stage profiles before the Tour of Fuzhou and I thought this Friday’s stage was my chance. It was a hilly one but not too hilly. I took it a little bit easy yesterday and the day before to be able to go full gas today. I felt really good on the first climb. I reached the top in the first 10 riders, I think. On the descent, I got a gap with two strong competitors. We decided to ride full gas to the finish and see how far we’d come.
“We rode strongly on the flat with one minute lead at the bottom of the last climb. One guy [Ben Dyball] from the peloton came across and the third guy [Stanislau Bazhkou] from the early breakaway dropped, so we were three again. I was up there with two GC riders and I was not up on GC anymore so my goal was the stage win and they did a good job for the GC. I could easily take the win in the sprint. I’ve missed a few months of the season due to injury, so it’s great to finish it with a win.”
With 45km to go, Davidenok, Slik and Bazhkou rode away from the peloton on a wet downhill while yellow jersey holder Lyu was experiencing a mechanical problem and getting help from his teammate Chen Mingrun. But, the Hengxiang team managed to gather at the front of the peloton and maintain the deficit just above one minute. Despite the presence of Leon Rohde and Kaden Groves, first and second the day before, in the yellow jersey group, the sprinters’ teams waited too long to pull and the non-categorised climb in the last 15km made the race an unusual one.
The Monkey Town team went to recce the final downhill in the morning. Slik made the best of it, taking advantage of the GC ambitions of Davidenok, who made the move work and Dyball, who had bridged the gap by himself in that last climb.
“We knew the last climb was pretty short and steep,” Dyball explained. “So, my team rode it into the climb and Dylan [Kennett] got me till maybe 1km to go on the climb and I attacked and caught the break just over the top. I knew another rider was up on GC as well so I was happy to just get time on a few other guys on GC. I’ll try again tomorrow. It’s still possible to win the GC but it’ll be hard.”
“I’m very happy with the outcome,” Davidenok said. “I attacked when it was very cloudy and I thought I had a good chance because the other riders wanted to take it easy. It was my ambition in this Tour to take the yellow jersey and I have it now.”
Lyu hasn’t said his last word. Now standing in third place overall 21 seconds down on the Kazakh rider, he commented ahead of stage 4 that features a second category climb 7km from the finish: “We gave everything we had but the weather made it hard to chase in the last kilometres. I will fight for the yellow jersey again tomorrow.”
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Ivar Slik (Ned) Monkey Town Continental Team||2:15:10|
|2||Ilya Davidenok (Kaz) Beijing XDS - Innova Cycing Team|
|3||Benjamin Dyball (Aus) St George Continental Cycling Team|
|4||Joey Van Rhee (Ned) Monkey Town Continental Team||0:00:15|
|5||Hayato Okamoto (Jpn) Aisan Racing Team|
|6||Roy Eefting (Ned) Memil Ccn Pro Cycling|
|7||Andrii Kulyk (Ukr) Beijing XDS - Innova Cycing Team|
|8||Tilen Finkšt (Slo) Ljubljana Gusto Xaurum|
|9||Maarten De Jonge (Ned) Monkey Town Continental Team|
|10||Nikolai Shumov (Blr) Minsk Cycling Club|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Ilya Davidenok (Kaz) Beijing XDS - Innova Cycing Team||7:23:52|
|2||Benjamin Dyball (Aus) St George Continental Cycling Team||0:00:12|
|3||Xianjing Lyu (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team||0:00:21|
|4||Yakob Abreham (Eri) Eritrea||0:00:58|
|5||Hanibal Gebresilasie (Eri) Eritrea||0:00:59|
|6||Marko Pavlič (Slo) H&R Block Pro Cycling Team||0:01:03|
|7||Natnael Mebrahtom (Eri) Eritrea||0:01:04|
|8||Vasili Strokau (Blr) Minsk Cycling Club||0:01:38|
|9||Maarten De Jonge (Ned) Monkey Town Continental Team||0:01:40|
|10||Mykhaylo Kononenko (Ukr) Beijing XDS - Innova Cycing Team|