Tour of Taihu Lake: Witmitz increases lead after third victory

Australian targetting record of five in a year

Sam Witmitz was unstoppable. In front of the magnificent Sheraton Moon Hotel on the south of the lake Taihu in the Zhejiang province, the Australian from Budget Forklifts scored his third stage win and became the first sprinter to impose himself on the orange jersey of race leader in the 2014 Tour of Taihu Lake, thus showing his current superiority with two days to go and Yuriy Metlushenko’s record of five stage wins (in 2013) in sight.

“It’s pretty safe to say that the Tour of Taihu Lake is my favorite race now,” Witmitz commented. “Those three wins are the biggest wins of my career so far. Leading the Tour is pretty amazing for me. We’ve had seven bunch sprints. I’m not a sprinter, I’m a lead out man but this race definitely suits my strength. I really enjoy racing in China or in Asia in general where it’s either a mountain day or a flat sprint day. It’s our last race of the season and we’ll never have the same group of guys again [as Jesse Kerrison will leave the team and join BMC development].”

“I say this every day, I can’t believe the job the guys are doing,” Witmitz continued. “This is the longest Tour we do for the year. Back in Australia, it’s four or five days maximum, so being on day 7, right at the front for the entire stage with four guys committed to take the responsibilities, and then manage to do a lead out and drop me at 200 metres to go, it just takes my breath away. It’s such an amazing feeling. I can only reward them. It seems like getting easier and easier to win these bunch sprints.”

“The last few kilometers were absolutely hectic,” he explained. “We had a hard time against Dukla Praha and Blue Water and the Dutchies as well. We kept on chopping and changing in the last five kilometers. It just got to a point where the guys were still on the front with about 3km to go. I saw Jesse [Kerrison] getting on to the boys. They managed to get him onto 500 metres to go, then he took me to 200, and it was like a swing around the corner and the finish was right there. Jesse did an amazing job to come from, at the start of the week: winning, to then getting sick, crashing and now into a role he hasn’t had to do before. He’s doing a fantastic job for such a young guy.”

Kerrison, however, got a twenty-second penalty for “sheltering behind team vehicle for some time” and therefore lost the lead in the best young riders competition to China’s Ma Guangtong. “I’m accidentally in the blue jersey,” said the 19 year old from Hengxiang who stands in seventh place overall, only ten seconds down on his fifth placed team-mate Wang Meiyin who collected three more seconds in time bonus after escaping once again. “To conquer this jersey wasn’t part of our plan today,” Ma added. “All we did was to push Meiyin to attack and move up on GC through the intermediate sprints. Personally, I feel more confident after riding the Tour of Hainan and seven days in the Tour of Taihu. I hope we’ll finish this race on a high note.”

With two days left, Witmitz, who is ten years older than Ma, also seems to have built confidence, and he might as well keep winning. “I was pretty amazed I got one victory, so to figure out if we’re going to have five…” the Australian outlined. “We’ll definitely give it a go. Today we wanted to go on the offensive. We said we didn’t want to change anything in the general classification, just try and win the stage and increase the gap. We’ll do that for the next two days as well but anything can happen in this race. The margin is so small. It’s going to take a little bit of luck too.”

Stage 8 from Yanming Sports Changxing Longshan Xinqu Taihu Tuying Circuit will be contested over a distance of 114km.

Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sam Witmitz (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts2:47:00 
2Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Trefor-Blue Water  
3Jurgen van Diemen (Ned) Netherlands National Team  
4Patrick Clausen (Den) Team Trefor-Blue Water  
5Boris Shpilevskiy (Rus) Rts-Santic Racing Team  
6Camilo Ulloa Rodriguez (Col) Start-Trigon Cycling Team  
7Alois Kankovsky (Cze) Team Dukla Praha  
8Ahmet Orken (Tur) Torku Sekerspor  
9Justin Jules (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13  
10Elias Busk (Den) Start-Trigon Cycling Team  
General classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sam Witmitz (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts19:04:45 
2Jurgen van Diemen (Ned) Netherlands National Team0:00:14 
3Alois Kankovsky (Cze) Team Dukla Praha0:00:15 
4Boris Shpilevskiy (Rus) Rts-Santic Racing Team0:00:25 
5Meiyin Wang (Chn) Team Hengxiang0:00:27 
6Patrick Clausen (Den) Team Trefor-Blue Water0:00:35 
7Ma Guangtong (Chn) Team Hengxiang0:00:37 
8Ahmet Orken (Tur) Torku Sekerspor0:00:40 
9Søren Kragh Andersen (Den) Team Trefor-Blue Water  
10Mohd Harrif Saleh (Mas) Terengganu Cycling Team  
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