Never before has a cycling team won all stages and the overall classification in a UCI hors-category event until Belkin swept all nine stages and the general classification of the 8th Tour of Hainan that came to a conclusion at Chengmai Old Town. At the end of a tumultuous bunch gallop, Theo Bos grabbed his sixth victory of the week while three-time stage winner Moreno Hofland was crowned overall champion.
"It's great, great!," Hofland exulted. "In the first couple of days at the Tour of Hainan, I started thinking that it would be nice to win this race. I chased time bonus and my gap to the second rider on GC [Belgium's Frédéric Amorison] kept growing, so I made it! I'm very happy. The Tour of Hainan will always be special for me because it'll remain my first pro win for ever."
Attackers Nikolay Mikhaylov of CCC Polsat and Li Fuyu from Hengxiang went away from the bunch after only seven kilometers and were rejoined later by Synergy Baku's Elchin Asadov. The trio got caught with 10km to go and the finale was marred by two crashes: the Belkin train derailed as lead-out men Jos van Emden and Tom Leezer went down with 500 metres to go and three riders (Tom Palmer of Drapac, Andreas Müller and Benedikt Kendler from KTM) crashed as they were crossing the finishing line fighting for places behind Bos and Rico Rogers of Synergy Baku. Michael Kurth of Team Quantec-Indeland closed in third position.
"We lost two men because they passed in a big crack on the road," Bos described, "but Moreno didn't hesitate at all. He led me out. 350 metres before the line, he brought me in a good position. With 150m to go, I started my sprint. I had a mechanical problem with my chain dropping but I had enough speed to bring the victory home."
"As our sponsor said, this is a unique moment for Belkin," Bos continued. "No cycling team has done that before. But we're not the first big team coming to the Tour of Hainan. Argos-Shimano, Astana and other Pro Teams have taken part in this race in the past but they haven't delivered as much as we did. We came with a very well balanced team to achieve that.
"In hilly stages when I was not up there anymore, Moreno was still in the group and the fastest of them all. We're really proud of what we've done. Some people said it wasn't fair or it's been boring but we've done our job in the most professional way we could. We've taken the Tour of Hainan very seriously. We've also worked for our future with learning about our sprint train. We'll take that into next year."
The Tour of Hainan has given the former track star an opportunity to win more than ever since he switched to road cycling after the Beijing Olympics. Moreover, the Chinese event has marked the birth of a champion. Hofland, 22, has the profile of a future very successful cyclist.
"Winning here will give me a lot of morale now to train hard for next year and improve my cycling," the young Dutchman said. "Here, I've learned how to organize a sprint train, how to deal with the yellow jersey and how to win again because as a young professional, it's rare to win like in the junior ranks. This is very good for my confidence. I'm on the right way to be a good rider, I hope."
Hainan will remain in the mind of many cycling fans as the Tour of Belkin.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Theo Bos (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team||3:37:01|
|2||Rico Dene Thomas Rogers (Aus) Synergy Baku Cycling Project|
|3||Michael Kurth (Ger) Team Quantec-Indeland|
|4||Andreas Mueller (Aut) Arbö Gebrüder Weiss-Oberndorfer|
|5||Kevin Peeters (Bel) Crelan-Euphony|
|6||Thomas Palmer (Aus) Drapac Cycling|
|7||Andris Smirnovs (Lat) Rietumu-Delfin|
|8||Mykhailo Kononenko (Ukr) Ukraine|
|9||Justin Jules (Fra) La Pomme Marseille|
|10||Yuriy Metlushenko (Ukr) Ukraine|
|11||Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team||33:44:00|
|2||Frédéric Amorison (Bel) Crelan-Euphony||0:01:07|
|3||Thomas Leezer (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team||0:01:14|
|4||Jos Van Emden (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team||0:01:17|
|5||William Walker (Aus) Drapac Cycling||0:01:21|
|6||Mykhailo Kononenko (Ukr) Ukraine||0:01:22|
|7||Adrian Honkisz (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice||0:01:24|
|8||Darío Hernández (Spa) Burgos BH-Castilla y Leon||0:01:31|
|9||Volodymyr Zagorodnyi (Ukr) Ukraine||0:01:35|
|10||Darren Lapthorne (Aus) Drapac Cycling|