Leonardo Duque, born a Colombian but now registered as a French rider, won the last stage and the overall classification of the seventh Tour of Taihu Lake, which was the final race of his career at the age of 36.
The versatile rider from Delko Marseille-Provence-KTM outsprinted his three breakaway companions, including his direct rival on GC, Yonder Godoy (Willier-Southeast) to score the second and third victories for the French outfit in their first year as a Pro Continental team. Asbjørn Kragh Andersen won stage 4 of the Tour des Fjords for them in August.
For the second straight day, the race leader at the start of stage 7, Cameron Bayly of Attaque Gusto crashed in the last twenty kilometres while he was part of the leading trio with Duque and Godoy.
“It’s very good to finish my career with a stage and GC win,” Duque said. “I didn’t think I’d do it when I started racing this morning. I believed the leader was going to stay with us. He had a great form but we also have a fair bit of experience with so many years of racing behind. Bayly deserved to win but after a year of racing at the highest level, we, from the Pro Continental teams, have some extra power. It counts. We were only four riders from Marseille in this race [fifth man Frederik Strand Galta pulled out due to sickness after the prologue] but we won GC, best young rider classification [with Lucas De Rossi] and we aren’t too bad in the teams classification either.”
“I was following all the moves and all the guys I needed to,” a hugely disappointed Bayly explained. “I made a mistake on the descent and crashed. A corner caught me out by surprise. I thought I was holding up, I just couldn’t. I went off the road into a tree. I’m embarrassed. I’m normally proud of my bike handling. I just got caught out and that was it. I was done. Before that, I did everything I needed to do. There were only three of us up the road and I was there with the GC guys. Just one silly mistake and the race is all over.”
Duque and Godoy forged on. They were only two seconds apart on GC, Duque being second with an advantage of two seconds over the other South American since he took a four-second bonus through his third place on stage 4.
“When I saw two riders [Peter Schulting from Parkhotel-Valkenburg and Mauricio Ortega of RTS-Monton] chasing us down with ten kilometers to go but the orange jersey wasn’t there, we waited for them,” Duque said. “But as we were four at the front, I still had to pace myself because I didn’t want to let [second placed on GC Giuseppe] Fonzi to come across. Godoy wasn’t pulling anymore. I would have liked to let the stage win go to one of the two riders who were with us but I had to beat Godoy to win GC and he did a very good sprint, so I was forced to win the stage as well.”
“Duque was the strongest, ”Godoy admitted. “During all previous days, I worked for [three time stage winner Jakub] Mareczko. Second on GC makes me happy anyway because this race has been a very good experience. I’m not a sprinter but I was feeling good on the bike. It’s a nice way to end the season.”
Finishing second of the conclusive stage at Maoshan Scenic Area, an historical venue for Taoism but also a place to pay tribute to the numerous victims of the China-Japan war in 1937, Schulting moved up to third overall behind Duque and Godoy, taking out Fonzi who was the runner up at the start in Jurong. “I can’t be completely happy to come second today,” the Dutchman said. “That’s the place of the first loser but had I been told this morning that I’d make the final podium, I would have signed straight away. The harder the race is, the better it is for me and it was a hard race today. It’s nice for Duque to win his very last race.”
In doing so at the Tour of Taihu Lake, Duque mimicked Australia’s Patrick Jonker, who concluded his career by winning the overall classification of the 2004 Tour Down Under.
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Leonardo Fabio Duque (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTM||2:58:05|
|2||Peter Schulting (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team|
|3||Yonder Godoy (Ven) Wilier Triestina-Southeast|
|4||Mauricio Ortega Ramirez (Col) RTS - Santic Racing Team||0:00:02|
|5||Meiyin Wang (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team||0:00:06|
|6||Muradjan Halmuratov (Uzb) XDS|
|7||Sven Van Luijk (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team|
|8||Giuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Southeast|
|9||Oleksi Kasianov (Ukr) Jilun-Shakeland Cycling Team|
|10||Peeter Pruus (Est) Rietumu-Delfin||0:00:11|
|#||Rider Name (Country) Team||Result|
|1||Leonardo Fabio Duque (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTM||19:56:35|
|2||Yonder Godoy (Ven) Wilier Triestina-Southeast||0:00:08|
|3||Peter Schulting (Ned) Parkhotel Valkenburg Continental Team||0:00:13|
|4||Giuseppe Fonzi (Ita) Wilier Triestina-Southeast||0:00:15|
|5||Meiyin Wang (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team||0:00:24|
|6||Mauricio Ortega Ramirez (Col) RTS - Santic Racing Team||0:00:31|
|7||Ilya Davidenok (Kaz) RTS - Santic Racing Team||0:00:34|
|8||Oleksii Kasianov (Ukr) Jilun-Shakeland Cycling Team||0:00:40|
|9||Eduard Michael Grosu (Rom) Nippo - Vini Fantini||0:00:50|
|10||Lucas De Rossi (Fra) Delko Marseille Provence KTM||0:01:05|