On the hunt for a contract for next year, Frenchman Julien Antomarchi of La Pomme Marseille showed his talents by taking a solo victory on stage four, winning by one second ahead of the chasing peloton in Xinglong (literally: Prosperity in Chinese). His very courageous effort under the pouring rain also awarded him the race leader's yellow jersey.
“I intended to have a quiet day in the bunch...” Antomarchi explained. “But I’ve missed out on that one! I went on the attack and found myself in a front group of three riders (with Federico Butto of Burgos BH and Oleksandr Surtukovych from Synergy Baku Cycling Project). We didn’t get much of an advantage at the beginning so we were wondering if it was worth carrying on. At the first intermediate sprint we had three or four minutes lead, which was not enough but then it went up to eight.”
“With 40km to go, we accelerated. The Baku rider punctured, we couldn’t afford to wait for him, then the Italian struggled in a little climb so I was left by myself for the last 25km. I gave everything and I preserved a very little advantage on the line. I’m very happy to get the stage win and the yellow jersey.”
The time bonus Antomarchi collected out on the road was just enough for him to precede green jersey wearer Andrea Palini in the general classification.
Another bunch sprint was expected in Xongling but the 2014 Tour of Hainan had a different winner from a different team and a different nationality in just as many days of racing.
“I’m a bit frustrated,” said Palini who won the sprint behind the Frenchman. “We could have done better. Considering all the work we’ve done, we deserved to win but the guy alone at the front has been brave too. We’ve ridden in order to close the gap but Belkin only came to the front with three kilometres to go. We’ve been helped by the team of the leader [Hengxiang] and another Chinese team [Giant-Champion System]. But with the heavy rain in the last hour, the road was a bit dirty and we were scared to slip in the finale. Actually, there was a bit of mistake by some riders in the last curve, not by us because we were well informed, but others went the wrong way. It might have cost the win.”
“It’s a missed occasion even though it’s a nice result to have two Lampre-Merida riders on the podium”, third placed Niccolo Bonifazio commented. “We did the last 30km at 50km/h, maybe even more. We couldn’t ride faster. [Roberto] Ferrari sprinted till the 200m to go mark, then I led Palini out for him to take the yellow jersey but we didn’t manage to get it. The rain has been a factor in favor of the Frenchman in the lead. But this race is pleasant and we’ll try to do well in the harder stages.”
Previous leader Wang Meiyin hinted he was not disappointed at losing the yellow jersey.
“I’m happy with the effort my team put in defending the jersey”, said the rider from Shandong. “My coach planned for me to save energy for the intermediate sprints and the final one but the French rider at the front was very strong.”
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Julien Antomarchi (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13||3:15:59|
|2||Andrea Palini (Ita) Lampre-Merida||0:00:02|
|3||Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida|
|4||Ruslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana|
|5||Wouter Wippert (Ned) Drapac|
|6||Barry Markus (Ned) Belkin|
|7||Mohammad Saufi Mat Senan (Mal) Terengganu|
|8||Justin Jules (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13|
|9||Hariff Salleh (Mal) Terengganu|
|10||Ondrej Rybin (Cze) Dukla|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Julien Antomarchi (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13||13:22:10|
|2||Andrea Palini (Ita) Lampre-Merida||0:00:04|
|3||Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida||0:00:06|
|4||Meiyin Wang (Chn) Hengxiang||0:00:08|
|5||Wouter Wippert (Ned) Drapac||0:00:10|
|6||Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin|
|7||Arman Kamyshev (Kaz) Astana|
|8||Samir Jabrayilov (Aze) Synergy Baju Cycling Project||0:00:13|
|9||Alex Surutkovich (Ukr) Synergy Baku Cycling Project||0:00:14|
|10||Maksym Averin (Aze) Synergy Baku Cycling Project|