Max Walscheid had never before won a race as a professional, but after an "incredible" week at the Tour of Hainan, he returns home with a haul of five victories and a green jersey tucked away in his suitcase.
The German has dominated the bunch sprints at the Chinese race, and he made it five wins from nine stages on the final day. The short stage saw crosswinds but Walscheid's Giant-Alpecin teammates kept him well sheltered and he was able to finish the job.
"It was really good teamwork from the guys again today, and I could save a lot of energy during the whole stage," said Walscheid. "I'm happy that I can finish a great week with another stage win and keep the green jersey."
Giant-Alpecin coach Arthur van Dongen added: "The guys showed that they had the best lead-out train of the week here and were in control for the whole stage."
The race has been a hugely significant one for Walscheid in terms of building his confidence.
The 23-year-old was one of the six Giant-Alpecin riders who were injured when a wrong-way driver hit the team head on during its training camp in January. He suffered a fractured tibia and wrist and did not begin his season until May.
Finishing second in between Andre Greipel and Marcel KIttel at the German national championships in June was an encouraging sign, but there's nothing like the morale boost of a first professional victory.
“The week has been incredible with five stage victories," said Walscheid. "Especially after such a difficult year for me personally, this is a perfect way to close down the season and after a short break start the preparations for next year extra motivated."
The final stage also brought the curtain down on the career of Cheng Ji, who is retiring at the tender age of 29 in order to spend more time with his family.
"It was a really nice way for Cheng Ji to finish his career, with such an atmosphere here," added Van Dongen.
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