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Metlushenko keeps lead as Belgian foils the sprinters
Jonathan Breyne (Crelan-Euphony) drives the break on the last lap
Like in the previous days, the winner of stage 8 of the Tour of Taihu Lake was classified with the same time as the rest of the peloton, but Belgium's Jonathan Breyne of Pro Continental team Crelan-Euphony didn't win a bunch sprint. By just a few centimeters, he stayed away from the bunch sprint and won ahead of Boris Shpilevskiy of RTS-Santic. Torku's Ahmet Örken, in third, greatly helped his road captain Yuriy Metlushenko to keep his fourteen seconds lead over Alois Kankovsky with only one stage remaining.
"I could see the peloton coming back on me but I decided to do the last kilometer flat out, it was all or nothing," Breyne said. "When I realized that [last breakaway companion] Vitaly Buts was cracking, I had no doubt that I had to go. Fortunately, there was a three-quarter tail wind to help me. I was the strongest of the riders away. I pulled for eight kilometers out of sixteen in the final loop."
Breyne jumped out of the bunch with Buts and his teammate Klas Sys after the first intermediate sprint won at km 30 by Örken who rode in defense of Metlushenko's overall lead. The trio got a maximum advantage of 2:13 at km 58 of the race reduced to an 80-kilometer format for a full live telecast on CCTV. Kankovsky's Dukla Praha was the most active team at the front of the peloton but the Czech double stage winner was right to repeat that bunch gallops weren't ineluctable.
"It's really like competing in a points race on the track," said Buts who keeps chasing time bonuses on the road and is only one second down on fourth placed Jesse Kerrison, who remains the best young rider but feels the fatigue after eight days of racing, which is logical for a teenager.
But at the age of 37, veteran Metlushenko is also tired. "Today it's a real honor for me to see Ahmet [Örken] doing so well to protect my leader's jersey," the Ukrainian said. "He's my student! Seven days to defend this jersey have taken their toll. I came to the Tour of Taihu Lake with the aim of winning a stage and I've won four of them. To be the overall winner would mean a lot. We're not there yet but I'm not racing to finish second."
For the second year in a row, Örken made a top 3 in a stage of the Tour of Taihu Lake. "But I've had much more work this time with Yuriy's lead," said the 20-year-old Turkish sprinter. "I was told to stick on Kankovsky's wheel and that's how I managed to get the top three. I'm happy with it but as soon as I crossed the line, I thought I had won the race. I didn't see what was happening on my left side."
That was Breyne, who refused to be reeled in. "Pulling the bunch at the Tour of Hainan improved my condition," the Belgian winner said. "It gave me the capacity to accelerate at the end today. This is my first UCI victory. I hope it'll open me doors for a contract for next year as I don't have signed any yet. I've been unlucky since I turned pro with a bad crash against a car to start with, tendonitis in my second year, two broken ribs this season. I was feeling a bit down morally this morning because of being away from home for 24 days, but having waffles at breakfast made me happy again. It's great to come out of Crelan-Euphony's last race with a victory and get this team to finish on a high note."
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Jonathan Breyne (Bel) Crelan-Euphony||1:37:33|
|2||Boris Shpilevskiy (Rus) RTS Santic Racing Team|
|3||Ahmet Orken (Tur) Torku Sekerspor|
|4||Yuriy Metlushenko (Ukr) Torku Sekerspor|
|5||Alois Kankovsky (Cze) ASC Dukla Praha|
|6||Christophe Premont (Bel) Crelan-Euphony|
|7||Alex Wohler (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts|
|8||Yannick Martinez (Fra) La Pomme Marseille|
|9||Mark Sehested Pedersen (Den) Blue Water Cycling|
|10||Simon Buttner (Fra) China Wuxi Jilun Cycling Team|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Yuriy Metlushenko (Ukr) Torku Sekerspor||18:26:55|
|2||Alois Kankovsky (Cze) ASC Dukla Praha||0:00:14|
|3||Boris Shpilevskiy (Rus) RTS Santic Racing Team||0:00:28|
|4||Jesse Kerrison (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts||0:00:40|
|5||Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Ukraine||0:00:41|
|6||Jiri Hochmann (Cze) ASC Dukla Praha||0:00:47|
|7||Yannick Martinez (Fra) La Pomme Marseille||0:00:49|
|8||Robert Sweeting (USA) 5 Hour Energy p/b Kenda||0:00:52|
|9||Jonathan Breyne (Bel) Crelan-Euphony|
|10||Christophe Premont (Bel) Crelan-Euphony||0:00:54|