As Jesse Kerrison was sick for the second day in a row, his teammate Sam Witmitz switched from lead-out man to top sprinter to deliver a second stage win for Budget Forklifts in the modern industrial agglomeration of Haimen on the Yang Tze River delta. In doing so, Witmitz claimed his first international victory at the age of 29. Dukla Praha's Alois Kankovsky took second place in a nail-biting sprint finish and duly retained the orange jersey of race leader, while the display of Italian fast man Mattia Gavazzi (Amore & Vita) suggested that he probably won't finish the Tour of Taihu Lake without a stage win.
"It was actually quite easy for me because my teammates did such a great job today," Witmitz said. "Today's sprint was especially important for us because we have Jesse Kerrison racing for GC, but unfortunately Jesse had a bit of food poisoning and stuff in the last couple of days. We went in today trying to work for him. We did our best we could to get him through and hopefully get him out for the win but the food poisoning has been too hard on him so he wasn't in contention in the finish.
"Yeah, so for me it was great to have an opportunity to sprint for myself", Witmitz continued. "But as I said, nothing could happen without the team and I think I was dropped off by my teammates at 150 metres to go, so pretty much the job was already done and I just had to cross the line. This has been a work in progress all year, starting from a training camp in December. We became mates and worked on each other's weaknesses. We got that lead-out right throughout the year. I think coming here to China this week, we got our lead-out absolutely dialled, so hopefully this is only one of many victories coming in this week."
Five riders opened the road for the first 100 kilometres with China Games champion Ma Guangtong of Hengxiang taking all three intermediate sprints over his compatriot Wu Nan (Giant-Champion System), Feritcan Samli (Torku), Enver Asanov (Baku) and Artem Toplahnyuk (Amore & Vita). A single son of farmers who produce corn and wheat in the Shandong province, the 19-year-old took over from his teammate Wang Meiyin as best Greater China rider by adding nine seconds in time bonuses to his account.
"We lost one rider in the team [China national champion Zhao Jingbiao], so we changed our tactic," Ma explained. "Wang sacrificed his chances and I went away. I've raced the Tour of Hainan before and I've been the best Asian rider for a day [before Wang took over] and I feel better on the bike after this race. Since I'm young, I recover well but I yet have to discover what I'll be the best at. However, I love racing the Tour of Taihu on a flat terrain with no wind."
Another team down a rider was Dukla Praha, as Ondrej Rybin was forced out with a broken collarbone, but they still impressed as they combined with Budget Forklifts to bring back the race leader. "The Australian team is very strong," Kankovsky noted. "I'm satisfied as I keep the jersey but maybe I made a mistake that made me lose some time. In the next few days, I think I should go for my sprint a little bit earlier. It's going to be hard to race like that with only five riders."
An interesting move to the top 3 was made by Mattia Gavazzi. A double stage winner at the Tour of Qinghai Lake and the Tour of China this year, the Italian warned the other sprinters. "I was moving up alone on the left side and I passed everyone after the line but I didn't take any risks," he said. "I haven't trained for a month but within a couple of days, I'll be a winner here."
Stage 4 (129.7km) is scheduled from Qidong Coastal Industrial Park to Chongming, the home of the Chinese leg of the UCI Women's World Cup every year in May.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Sam Witmitz (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts||3:04:49|
|2||Alois Kankovsky (Cze) Team Dukla Praha|
|3||Mattia Gavazzi (Ita) Amore & Vita - Selle SMP|
|4||Jurgen Van Diemen (Ned) Netherlands National Team|
|5||Shih Hsin Hsiao (Tpe) Team Gusto|
|6||Camilo Ulloa Rodriguez (Col) Start-Trigon Cycling Team|
|7||Patrick Clausen (Den) Team Trefor-Blue Water|
|8||Ahmet Orken (Tur) Torku Sekerspor|
|9||Daniel Barry (NZl) Team Budget Forklifts|
|10||Muhamad Adiq Husainie Othman (Mas) Terengganu Cycling Team|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Alois Kankovsky (Cze) Team Dukla Praha||8:21:16|
|2||Jesse Kerrison (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts||0:00:08|
|3||Sam Witmitz (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts||0:00:15|
|4||Ma Guangtong (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team||0:00:16|
|5||Boris Shpilevskiy (Rus) RTS-Santic Racing Team||0:00:18|
|6||Meiyin Wang (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team||0:00:19|
|7||Jurgen Van Diemen (Ned) Netherlands National Team||0:00:20|
|8||Patrick Clausen (Den) Team Trefor-Blue Water||0:00:21|
|9||Justin Jules (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13|
|10||Mattia Gavazzi (Ita) Amore & Vita - Selle SMP|