Bob Schoonbroodt puts an end to bunch sprint finishes

Sam Witmitz remains a solid leader with one stage to go

As much as the Tour of Taihu Lake is designed for bunch sprint finishes, Bob Schoonbroodt of the Dutch national team proved there’s always a hope for breakaways to succeeded after claiming stage 8 ahead of local favorites Wang Meiyin (Hengxiang) and Zhang Wenlong (Giant-Champion System), who were with him in a eleven-man break.

“Normally my job here consists in working for our sprinter Jurgen van Diemen”, Schoonbroodt said at the finish. “But today, after one week of nice weather, I got too cold in the peloton, so I had to do something to warm up. I pushed all I could in the crosswind and when I looked back, there was nobody on my wheel. Eventually, other riders came across and I rode away solo again with 5km to go.”

The 23-year-old from Maastricht captured the first international victory of his career and his fifth this year after performing domestically as well. Wang delivered his best stage result so far at the Tour of Taihu after being noticed almost every day for attacking, chasing time bonus in the intermediate sprints and going on stage for taking the red jersey of best Greater China rider [which includes China PRC, Hong Kong and Taiwan].

He collected nine more seconds in time bonus as he won the first intermediate sprint and concluded the stage in second position behind Schoonbroodt.

“I have a little regret that I didn’t win today”, Wang explained. “But I’m happy for the stage winner. He showed that he’s a very strong rider. In the last ten kilometers, I realized that our breakaway had a chance to succeed so we worked harder. I understood well the English speaking riders encouraging me to ride flat out as they knew I was quite high on GC.”

Wang, whose team-mate Ma Guangtong crashed with 10km to go and lost the best young rider blue jersey to Turkey’s Ahmet Örken, will enter the conclusive stage with a deficit of eighteen seconds from race leader Sam Witmitz while nineteen seconds of time bonus remain up for grab. With an advantage of 14 seconds over Van Diemen and 15 over Alois Kankovsky, the Australian from Budget Forklifts looks very likely to wrap it up even though he missed out on a fourth stage win and the possibility to equal Yuriy Metlushenko’s record of five victories last year.

“We always tried to catch the breakaway at the end”, Witmitz described. “The guys went full gas. It was lucky we got that assistance from Blue Water. They’re an extremely strong team as well. Coming from Australia, we don’t know a lot of these riders’ capabilities. The Dutchies have showed how strong they are. We probable gave them a little bit too much road but for us, at the end of the day it was no issue really. We’re happy to go into tomorrow with around about fourteen seconds lead.”

“We are in an extremely strong position”, he added. “With nineteen seconds up for grab, that means one person would have to get all the time bonus on the day and we to get zero. There are also other guys in contention for the race. They’ll also be fighting for the intermediate and the sprint finish. It’s a great position to be in but it’s definitely not won yet and we’ve got a massive battle coming in to the final stage tomorrow. My team-mates have been working so hard all week. They are recovering extremely well. It comes from the Tour itself, with the organization, the way we’re transferred to different hotels and the food they provide and everything like that, it’s really helping our guys, which is great. And me, personally I’m feeling extremely strong still. This is great for me and I think we can win tomorrow.”

Stage 9 Wujiang Taihu New City Suzhouwan Circuit will conclude the 5th Tour of Taihu Lake with eight laps of 11.3km each.

Brief Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Bob Schoonbroodt (Ned) Netherlands2:41:35 
2Meiyin Wang (Chn) Henxiang Cycling Team0:00:10 
3Wenlong Zhang (Chn) Giant-Champion System  
4Rick Van Breda (Ned) Netherlands  
5José Gonçalves (Por) La Pomme Marseille  
6Viesturs Luksevics (Lat) Amore & Vita - Selle SMP  
7Elchin Asadov (Aze) Synergy Baku Cycling Project  
8Daniel Crista (Rom) Romania  
9Mohd Harrif Saleh (Mas) Terengganu Cycling Team  
10Alois Kankovsky (Cze) ASC Dukla Praha  
General classification after stage 8
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Sam Witmitz (Aus) Team Budget Forklifts21:46:30 
2Jurgen Van Diemen (Ned) Netherlands0:00:14 
3Alois Kankovsky (Cze) ASC Dukla Praha0:00:15 
4Meiyin Wang (Chn) Henxiang Cycling Team0:00:18 
5Bob Schoonbroodt (Ned) Netherlands0:00:22 
6Boris Shpilevskiy (Rus) RTS-Santic Racing Team0:00:25 
7Patrick Clausen (Den) Team Trefor - Blue Water0:00:35 
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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