Manuel Belletti of Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec became the first rider to win two stages at the 13th Tour of Hainan. He doubled up in Lingshui on the shores of Clearwater Bay in the absence of the pure sprinters who didn't overcome the climbs, including race leader Dylan Page, so the winner of the Tour of Hungary overall moved into the lead ahead of the traditional difficult stage to Wuzhishan.
"I only crowned the work of my teammates in the last 200 metres," Belletti reacted. "They've been impressive once again. By themselves, they caught the four-man breakaway and the last one towards the end. I couldn't make any mistake after the great confidence they showed me. It's a nice win that I dedicate to them, the second one in this Tour and it's not over yet."
It was a very competitive stage from the start indeed, as China tropical island became rainy and many riders were keen to take profit of the first real climbs since the start in Danzhou. Colombian veteran Mauricio Ortega, 38, of Ningxia Sports Lottery, won the first KOM price but couldn't hold the pace of the first part of the peloton later on. A new name irrupted in Chinese cycling as Lyu Xianjing of Hengxiang came second atop the first climb and first in the following two hills, making his way to the first polka dot jersey of his career since he's taking part in his first international road race ever.
"I'm normally a mountain biker," the 20-year-old from the Yunnan province said. "I'm grateful to the Hengxiang team to have given me this opportunity. I'm very satisfied with my performance in the climbs today. I didn't expect to become the King of the Mountains in a prestigious race like the Tour of Hainan. It's a surprise for me. I'm normally lacking skills in handling a road bike but I'm doing my best."
No breakaway took shape before Alexis Guérin (Delko Marseille-Provence KTM), Clément Carisey (Israel Cycling Academy), Simon Pellaud (Swiss national team) and Davide Orrico (Vorarlberg-Santic) went clear after 100km of racing. They opened a gap of 1:30 but the Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec team reacted strongly. The quartet got caught with 40km to go and many more attacks succeeded while the gap to the dropped riders kept increasing significantly.
"We kept the race active as much as we could," said Orrico who jumped again when two of his compatriots escaped and it was no other than defending champion Jacopo Mosca (Wilier Triestina) accompanied by Alessandro Tonelli (Bardiani-CSF). Gino Mäder (Swiss national team), Guillaume Boivin (Israel Cycling Academy) and Peter Schulting (Monkey Town) reinforced them at the front but Belletti's team-mates remained devoted until the end.
"It's been a harder stage than what we expected, also because of the rain," Belletti added. "We had planned some action in the last climb but it eventually wasn't needed because the bunch exploded before. Pure sprinters like [Andrea] Guardini and [Jakub] Mareczko didn't make the front group. I've demonstrated on stage 3 that I was able to win against them, I've won today without them and I'll try to win again in the next few days regardless of who is up there for sprinting."
A new fast man appeared on the podium: Jannik Steimle of Vorarlberg-Santic. "Second is for sure a good result for me," the 22-year-old German declared. "I've made the top 10 in the last four days, and today I made my best race of the whole season. The strongest man won. I know Belletti from the Tour of Hungary. I found his back wheel with 3km to go. I stayed there until the finishing line and that's how I came second."
"This is my first time in Hainan and it won't be the last one because the landscapes are really beautiful," Belletti noted. "The crowd on the road is really welcoming. It's a really nice atmosphere. I feel good here." It might be a different story on stage 6 with a harder finale although Wuzhishan isn't the queen stage this year with the inclusion of a gruelling climb to conclude stage 8.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec||4:09:07|
|2||Jannik Steimle (Ger) Team Vorarlberg Santic|
|3||Raymond Kreder (Ned) Team Ukyo|
|4||Georgios Bouglas (Gre) Ningxia Sports Lottery Livall Cycling Team|
|5||Fabian Lienhard (Swi) Switzerland|
|6||Luca Pacioni (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia|
|7||Imerio Cima (Ita) Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini|
|8||Mirco Maestri (Ita) Bardiani CSF|
|9||Ivar Slik (Ned) Monkey Town Continental Team|
|10||Alessandro Fedeli (Ita) Trevigiani Phonix - Hemus 1896|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Manuel Belletti (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec||18:25:45|
|2||Raymond Kreder (Ned) Team Ukyo||0:00:07|
|3||Davide Ballerini (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec||0:00:17|
|4||Nur Amirull Fakhruddin Mazuki (Mas) Terengganu Cycling Team|
|5||Jannik Steimle (Ger) Team Vorarlberg Santic||0:00:18|
|6||Fausto Masnada (Ita) Androni Giocattoli-Sidermec||0:00:21|
|7||Patrick Schelling (Swi) Team Vorarlberg Santic|
|8||Jianpeng Liu (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team|
|9||Julien El Fares (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTM||0:00:22|
|10||Mirco Maestri (Ita) Bardiani CSF|