Australian sprinter Brenton Jones landed the biggest win of his young career on the final day of his 2015 season as he beat home Fabio Silvestre (Trek) and Benjamin Giraud (Marseille 13-KTM) at the conclusion of the Tour of Hainan's 119km ninth stage in Wanning Xinglong.
The 23-year-old, who joined Drapac at the end of last season, crashed on stage 1, finished fifth on stage 2 and second on stage 4 but with the team dedicating itself to claiming the stage win and Graeme Brown on leadout duties Jones broke through for his second win of the season.
"The whole team were so strong and we were determined to finish strongly. A great lead-out by Graeme put me in position in the final 1.5km and helped me take a strong win! I am so happy, winning the last race of the season and putting Drapac on the top step. The team has had so much faith in me all week, and today was well worth the wait," said Jones who also won the Tour of Japan prologue in May.
Jones' win made it two years running that Drapac have won a stage at the Chinese 2.HC race after Wouter Wippert's victory last season.
With Adam Phelan sitting ninth overall and within touching distance of the top five, Drapac had the dual ambitions of the stage win and a high GC finish. Brown explained the team was slightly disappointed to miss the top five, but it was nevertheless a success day racing in China.
"It is definitely hats of to the whole team today. This was truly a team effort. We kept it together for [Travis] Meyer to take KOM points and for Phelan to try take some time in the intermediate sprints," Brown said. "Unfortunately for Phelan he got fourth in both sprints but Meyer managed to score some points finishing top five on the mountains classification.
"In the final we waited a lot longer then usual and attacked it like the other days. In the last 1-1.5k I had Jones on ice, relaxing in the bunch. In the last corner I punched it, Jones smoked past them and I knew he had it at 100m to go and started to salute. Absolutely great way to finish a race and especially the 2015 season."
Sport director at the race, Keith Flory added the victory is a perfect way for Drapac to finish the season and start looking ahead to the 2016 season.
The commitment from everyone was fantastic each and every day to the goals we set for ourselves," Flory said. "Every rider has stepped up this year and it puts us in a great position to kick in for 2016."
Drapac finish the season with nine victories having also won stages at the Tour Down Under, Jayco Herald Sun Tour, Tour of Taiwan, Tour de Korea and the Tour of Utah.
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