Zeits takes first pro victory on Tour of Hainan queen stage

Modolo defends race lead on decisive climb to put overall win in sight

The long-awaited queen stage of the 10th Tour of Hainan lived up to expectations with race favourite Andrey Zeits of Astana going clear to claim the first victory of his eight-year professional career, while Lampre-Merida’s Sacha Modolo paced himself to emerge from the hills leading to Wuzhishan with his race lead intact.

"I’m happy to finally win a race. It’s been a great team work by Astana," Zeits declared at the post-race press conference. "I was pedaling on an easy mode all day while my team-mates were pulling the bunch. They prepared for my attack very well. I also tried to reach the finish line with a big enough gap to take the yellow jersey. It didn’t happen but I’m equally happy with the blue jersey [best Asian rider].

"I want to thank the organisers for putting together this nice race at the end of the season," Zeits declared at the post-race press conference. "It’s my fourth time doing the Tour of Hainan and I like it, especially when the stages are long like sometimes this year."

As lone escapee Oleksandr Polivoda from the Ukraine national team surrendered, Zeits rode away with 16km to go as he countered an acceleration by his young teammate Bakhtiar Kozhatayev. Another promising rider, Valerio Conti, followed the instructions from his Lampre-Merida team to stick to Zeits’ wheel on the decisive hill. But the young Italian got dropped on the descent.

He also caused a split that prevented chaser Julien El Farès of Marseille 13-KTM from coming across to the Kazakh leader. "I’m disappointed," the Frenchman said. "On the flat I should have waited for [Francisco] Mancebo. Had we combined forces, we were faster than Zeits in the sprint."

With the exception of Conti, the Lampre-Merida riders were supposed to look after Modolo, who had made clear on the eve of the queen stage that he hadn’t said his last word for keeping the yellow jersey.

"There weren’t many responses to the attacks at the front, so I could just keep my steady pace," the yellow jersey explained. "When I’m on good form, I can also do well on the climbs. I did today. I kept the commissaire’s car in sight so I knew the gap wasn’t too big. I thought I could regain twenty to thirty seconds on the downhill and that’s what I did."

With an advantage of nine seconds over Zeits and twelve over El Farès in the overall ranking, Modolo can eye the first stage race victory of his career ahead of the final stage on Wednesday.

"We never know but I’ve almost won the Tour of Hainan," the Italian admitted. "There’s also the green jersey to defend [with an advantage of six points over Andrea Palini]. That was my initial goal in addition to stage wins. I won’t take as many risks as usual in the sprint tomorrow with the yellow jersey on my shoulders."


#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro Team5:12:43 
2Julien El Fares (Fra) Team Marseille 13 KTM0:00:02 
3Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team  
4Andriy Vasylyuk (Ukr) Ukraine0:00:07 
5Krists Neilands (Lat) Rietumu - Delfin  
6Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek Factory Racing  
7Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling  
8Adam Phelan (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling  
9Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team  
10Leonardo Basso (Ita) Trek Factory Racing  
General classification after stage 8
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sacha Modolo (Ita) Lampre-Merida32:51:48 
2Andrey Zeits (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:00:09 
3Julien El Fares (Fra) Team Marseille 13 KTM0:00:12 
4Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) Skydive Dubai Pro Cycling Team0:00:17 
5Krists Neilands (Lat) Rietumu - Delfin0:00:25 
6Julien Bernard (Fra) Trek Factory Racing  
7Bakhtiyar Kozhatayev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team0:00:26 
8Francesco Gavazzi (Ita) Southeast Pro Cycling  
9Adam Phelan (Aus) Drapac Professional Cycling  
10Szymon Rekita (Pol) Trek Factory Racing  
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