On the eve of the ninth and final day at the Tour of Hainan, which will logically end up in a bunch sprint in Chengmai, Theo Bos confirmed that he will aim for a stage win in a grand Tour next season.
Thirteen victories is the number reached by the world’s fourth best sprinter André Greipel, behind Peter Sagan (22), Mark Cavendish (19) and Marcel Kittel (16) this year.
The Tour of Hainan is the second Chinese event ranked hors-category by the UCI, like the Tour of California in the US or the Critérium International in Europe. Belkin Pro Cycling is the only WorldTour team competing with most of their riders having stayed in China after the Tour of Beijing but not Bos who had a break rather than taking part in the Vuelta a España due “suboptimal health conditions” as his team called the drop of his cortisol level caused by asthma medication.
He arrived fresh but well trained at the Tour of Hainan, and he found optimal race conditions on the tropical Chinese island with wide roads for sprinting and an excellent train formed of dedicated team-mates like Lars Boom, Moreno Hofland, Tom Leezer, Jos van Emden, Dennis van Winden and Marc Goos.
Bos had never won more than two stages in a single race previously but this succession of triumphs in Asia doesn’t lead him to take the easiest way to enrich the road career he started after the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
“I’d love to do Le Tour de Langkawi again,” the 30-year-old said. “But I’m thinking of maybe riding Paris-Nice at that time of the season next year. I know it’s hard and there aren’t many opportunities there for sprinters but I keep trying to improve my level. I still pursue the same goal as when I switched to road cycling: I want to win a stage in a Grand Tour. Only after that I’ll be able to say that I’ve achieved what I’m looking for, and then I could focus on smaller races. Probably on the Asia Tour, I could win ten races every year.”
“I don’t think sprinters are obsessed by the numbers,” the Dutchman continued. “But sprinters’ successes have a huge influence on the atmosphere in a team. When sprinters win, it impacts the other riders, it’s good for the dynamic. I don’t know if it has happened before that this team [formerly known as Rabobank] has won so much, we may not be the best team in the world but we’re definitely on the right track in all aspects of racing: in the classics, overall classifications in Grand Tours and sprinting as well.”