Yuriy Metlushenko of Torku Seker Spor won the ninth and last stage of the 2013 Tour of Taihu Lake to make it five under his belt plus the overall classification that he continuously led since the first day. He took the record of the world's fastest stage race of the year with an average speed of 47.507km/h on the total distance of 937.9 kilometres. Therefore he beat Mark Cavendish's 47.46km/h at the 732.2km long Tour of Qatar in February.
"This was my third participation to the Tour of Taihu Lake and I've always loved this race," Metlushenko said after the grand finale at Wujiang Taihu New City. "It's a very important race and this comes as a very important victory in my career. I feel a lot of emotions. I'm almost crying because I've gone through different feelings through the nine days of racing."
The Ukrainian veteran got frightened when he crashed after two of the eight laps of the last stage near the Taihu lake. He got his bike fixed and got back on to control the situation with four men away: Altanzul Altansukh (Malak), Joao Pereira (Bic-Carmim), Lars Pria (Rietumu-Delfin) and Francisco Mancebo (5 hour Energy) who won two intermediate sprints that positioned him in the final top ten overall, which was quite something in a dead flat race for an old climber who didn't ride for a month after the Tour of Alberta in Canada in September. The Spaniard will resume racing with the Dubai Sky Dive team based in the Emirates and managed by Riccardo Martins next year.
"Other teams like Dukla Praha and Crelan-Euphony closed the gap at the end," Metlushenko continued. "I don't know exactly what happened in the final sprint because I only followed my lead out man Sergey Grechyn but I know it worked to perfection. We rode above 60km/h with a three-quarter tail wind and my teammate Ahmet Örken was strong enough to take the third place."
For the second straight day, Örken, who is Turkey's rising cycling star at the age of 20, made the award ceremony for his top three finish as well as he greatly helped Metlushenko secure his overall victory. "My legs were even better today," Örken said. "I felt strong and followed Alois [Kankovsky] according to the plan. The Tour of Taihu gives me a lot of confidence after the solid season I've had this year with 65 days of racing including more than 50 internationally."
The Tour of Taihu Lake went beyond expectations for Torku Seker Spor. "Initially, I came here with the ambition of winning one stage like last year," Metlushenko reminded. "But I noticed on the eve of stage 1 that I was given the back number 91 so I wondered if it was a sign that after nine stages I could be first, and now I am. I didn't say it loudly for my rivals not to know about it, but I was sick for stage 4 and stage 5. I had fever at 38°. I was close to pulling out, but as I was leading the race, I kept going. It's hard to be away from home and my wife Natalia for racing in China for almost one month. That's why it makes me so emotional to be an overall winner at my age ."
Metlushenko was the oldest starter of the 2013 Tour of Taihu Lake that has also revealed the huge talent and the great potential of two teenagers as best young rider Jesse Kerrison of Budget Forklifts emerged as a top sprinter in the making, notably as he won stage 6, and Jiang Zhi Hui from Max Success Sport, also aged 19, was awarded the best Greater China rider price after he showed his speed and even beat Metlushenko in a hot spot sprint.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Yuriy Metlushenko (Ukr) Torku Sekerspor||2:03:15|
|2||Alois Kankovsky (Cze) ASC Dukla Praha|
|3||Ahmet Orken (Tur) Torku Sekerspor|
|4||Kevin Peeters (Bel) Crelan-Euphony|
|5||Jesse Kerrison (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts|
|6||Robert Sweeting (USA) 5 Hour Energy p/b Kenda|
|7||Mark Sehested Pedersen (Den) Blue Water Cycling|
|8||Justin Jules (Fra) La Pomme Marseille|
|9||Ruslan Karimov (Uzb) Uzbekistan|
|10||Federico Butto (Ita) Burgos BH-Castilla y Leon|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Yuriy Metlushenko (Ukr) Torku Sekerspor||20:30:00|
|2||Alois Kankovsky (Cze) ASC Dukla Praha||0:00:18|
|3||Boris Shpilevskiy (Rus) RTS Santic Racing Team||0:00:38|
|4||Jesse Kerrison (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts||0:00:50|
|5||Vitaliy Buts (Ukr) Ukraine||0:00:51|
|6||Yannick Martinez (Fra) La Pomme Marseille||0:00:56|
|7||Jiri Hochmann (Cze) ASC Dukla Praha||0:00:57|
|8||Jonathan Breyne (Bel) Crelan-Euphony||0:01:01|
|9||Robert Sweeting (USA) 5 Hour Energy p/b Kenda||0:01:02|
|10||Francisco Mancebo Perez (Spa) 5 Hour Energy p/b Kenda|