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Metlushenko retains Tour of Taihu lead by 20 seconds
Alois Kankovsky (ASC Dukla Praha) was the first rider across the finish line for stage 6, but he would be relegated for irregular sprinting
Australia's Jesse Kerrison of Budget Forklifts opened the record book of his pro career at the age of 19 after being declared the winner of stage 6 of the Tour of Taihu Lake at Changxing following Alois Kankovsky's relegation to 97th place due to irregular sprinting. Race leader Yuriy Metlushenko from Torku Seker Spor took it as a good news as he's back with a comfortable lead overall with an advantage of 20 seconds instead of eight, had Kankovsky remained the stage winner.
"At the end the result is good but it's a little bittersweet as I wanted my first win in Asia to be normal," Kerrison told Cyclingnews after discovering the revised results back at his hotel in Yixing. "But racing is racing and the commissaires decided that Alois moved over on me.
"I'm happy that I can finally repay my team for all their hard work. It wouldn't have been possible without them. They have ridden like 10 men this whole Tour. Today we had one guy [Josh Prete] in the breakaway and we were leading the last kilometer. It makes me proud to say I ride for Budget Forklifts! Now hopefully I can get another win but under better circumstances."
"With three teams leading out and going from left to right, it was a really nervous last kilometer," said Kankovsky, who didn't feel that he had done anything worse than the other sprinters. "I was positioned on fifth wheel, behind Yuriy, because his [Torku Seker Spor] team was very strong in the finale. I knew I was at the right place for fighting for the podium and I had better legs than Yuriy today. Jesse also has a really strong team of young boys to help him. It could be any of us three winning today."
Unlike the five previous stages, there was a bit of uncertainty on whether the eight-man breakaway would be caught or not. Robert Sweeting (5 hour Energy), Martin Blaha (Dukla Praha), Jesus Del Pino (Burgos-BH), Ko Siu Wai (Hong Kong), Andriy Vasylyuk and Oleksandr Polivoda (Ukraine), Altanzul Altansukh (Malak) and Prete got a maximum lead of 1:50 with 40km to go and were reeled in only in sight of the flamme rouge at the last kilometer.
"My teammates have done all they could to catch this breakaway, it hasn't been easy," Metlushenko said. "Sergey Grechyn still managed to bring me to the front of the bunch but there was a strong headwind to finish and I launched my sprint a bit too early. The last 30 or 50 metres seemed never-ending. I was exhausted. Jesse and Alois passed me.
"I can't say it's a bad day for me. It's not bad to cross the line in third place against those two guys but after winning four stages, I don't feel being where I should be. I've done all I could for winning.
"Fortunately, for one more day, I retain the lead in the overall and points classifications," Metlushenko added. "Tomorrow is another day. Although stages here are quite short and flat, after one month of racing in China I feel like having the Tour de France in my legs. We're racing like it's the third week of a Grand Tour."
The last third of the nine-day long Tour of Taihu Lake is yet to be contested. Kankovsky seems fresher than Metlushenko as he hasn't competed in the Tour of Hainan. To regain 20 seconds on his Ukrainian rival isn't mission impossible for him but who knows the impact of Kerrison's first success on his confidence for winning for good?
"We have to keep our feet on the ground," said Kankovsky, a former omnium world champion. "Today, the breakaway was close to making it. The winner of the Tour of Taihu can still be someone else than one of the four sprinters."
|1||Jesse Kerrison (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts||2:18:49|
|2||Yuriy Metlushenko (Ukr) Torku Sekerspor|
|3||Mark Sehested Pedersen (Den) Blue Water Cycling|
|4||Yannick Martinez (Fra) La Pomme Marseille|
|5||Juan Carlos Riutort Martinez (Spa) Burgos BH-Castilla y Leon|
|6||Ruslan Karimov (Uzb) Uzbekistan National Team|
|7||Robert Sweeting (USA) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda|
|8||Xiaoyong Dong (Chn) Qinghai Tianyoude Cycling Team|
|9||Boris Shpilevskiy (Rus) RTS-Santic Racing Team|
|10||Vojtech Hacecky (Cze) ASC Dukla Praha|
|1||Yuriy Metlushenko (Ukr) Torku Sekerspor||14:11:15|
|2||Alois Kankovsky (Cze) ASC Dukla Praha||0:00:20|
|3||Boris Shpilevskiy (Rus) RTS-Santic Racing Team||0:00:36|
|4||Jesse Kerrison (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts|
|5||Jiri Hochmann (Cze) ASC Dukla Praha||0:00:44|
|6||Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Ukraine National Team||0:00:45|
|7||Yannick Martinez (Fra) La Pomme Marseille||0:00:48|
|8||Robert Sweeting (USA) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda|
|9||Christophe Premont (Bel) Crelan-Euphony||0:00:50|
|10||Kevin Peeters (Bel) Crelan-Euphony|