One day after relegation deprived him of his second stage win at the Tour of Taihu Lake, Dukla Praha's Alois Kankovsky emphatically showed that he's the fastest sprinter of the second half of the nine-day long Chinese event with a stage victory in Yixing Dongjiu. But Yuriy Meltushenko of Torku Seker Spor, albeit declining, retained the lead with an advantage of fourteen seconds as he limited the damage of time bonuses by crossing the finishing line in third place.
"I feel very satisfied with winning today after what happened yesterday," Kankovsky said. "This is the demonstration that I'm the fastest sprinter here. We're in the sport of cycling, not in figure skating! Yesterday, five riders ranked in the top 10 told me that my sprint was regular but the judges saw it otherwise."
Kankovsky's face as he crossed the finishing line outlined his feeling of revenge over what he considered an unfair decision. "During the race today, the eight-man breakaway was a good scenario for us but among the three who stayed at the front until close to the end, Vitaly Buts from the Ukraine was a real danger. He was indeed the virtual race leader, so we had to chase him down as a team. Fortunately, other teams like 5 hour Energy and Budget Forklifts had the same interest as us, so it was no problem catching the break."
Buts, Gleb Gorbachev of Uzbekistan national team and Reinier Honig from Crelan-Euphony got caught with ten kilometers to go. "I'm the fastest now," Kankovsky said. "I have better legs than in the first half of the Tour of Taihu."
On the other hand, Metlushenko, who won the first four stages, seems to be feeling the effects of the fast-paced, nine-day event. Through stage 7 the average speed is 47.525km/h. "I'm tired," the Ukrainian veteran said. "I feel it badly. In the last curve, I was taken off of Sergey Grechyn's wheel and I struggled to move back up to the front. I thought I finished second but…"
Metlushenko came third behind RTS-Santic's Boris Shpilevskiy who sprinted with a broken shoe after being involved in a crash after 30 kilometers with best young rider Jesse Kerrison, who missed out on time bonus by taking the fourth place. It was enough for the captain of Torku Seker Spor to remain in the lead in both overall and points classification, but had Kankovsky not been relegated at the end of stage 6, the difference between those two would have been two seconds only and the Czech would have had a strong psychological advantage.
"Shall the last two stages end in a bunch sprint again, I need to come third twice to win the Tour of Taihu," Metlushenko calculated. "I keep my fingers crossed."
|1||Alois Kankovsky (Cze) ASC Dukla Praha||2:38:11|
|2||Boris Shpilevskiy (Rus) RTS-Santic Racing Team|
|3||Yuriy Metlushenko (Ukr) Torku Sekerspor|
|4||Jesse Kerrison (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts|
|5||Kevin Peeters (Bel) Crelan-Euphony|
|6||Yannick Martinez (Fra) La Pomme Marseille|
|7||Federico Butto (Ita) Burgos BH-Castilla y Leon|
|8||Robert Sweeting (USA) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda|
|9||Mark Sehested Pedersen (Den) Blue Water Cycling|
|10||Andris Smirnovs (Lat) Rietumu-Delfin|
|1||Yuriy Metlushenko (Ukr) Torku Sekerspor||16:49:22|
|2||Alois Kankovsky (Cze) ASC Dukla Praha||0:00:14|
|3||Boris Shpilevskiy (Rus) RTS-Santic Racing Team||0:00:34|
|4||Jesse Kerrison (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts||0:00:40|
|5||Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Ukraine National Team||0:00:44|
|6||Jiri Hochmann (Cze) ASC Dukla Praha||0:00:48|
|7||Yannick Martinez (Fra) La Pomme Marseille||0:00:49|
|8||Robert Sweeting (USA) 5-hour Energy p/b Kenda||0:00:52|
|9||Christophe Premont (Bel) Crelan-Euphony||0:00:54|
|10||Kevin Peeters (Bel) Crelan-Euphony|