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Hofland handles pressure to win again in Chengmai

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Ma Guangtong (Hengxiang) is the best-placed Asian rider after stage 1.

Ma Guangtong (Hengxiang) is the best-placed Asian rider after stage 1.
(Image credit: Tour of Hainan)
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Moreno Hofland (Belkin) leads the Tour of Hainan.

Moreno Hofland (Belkin) leads the Tour of Hainan.
(Image credit: Tour of Hainan)
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The Hong Kong team leads the chase.

The Hong Kong team leads the chase.
(Image credit: Tour of Hainan)
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Moreno Hofland (Belkin) wins the opening stage of the Tour of Hainan.

Moreno Hofland (Belkin) wins the opening stage of the Tour of Hainan.
(Image credit: Tour of Hainan)
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Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida) and Ondrej Rybin (Team Dukla Praha) sprint in behind Hofland

Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida) and Ondrej Rybin (Team Dukla Praha) sprint in behind Hofland
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Moreno Hofland (Belkin Pro Cycling)

Moreno Hofland (Belkin Pro Cycling)
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Moreno Hofland (Belkin Pro Cycling) wins the sprint

Moreno Hofland (Belkin Pro Cycling) wins the sprint
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Hofland takes the stage 1 win

Hofland takes the stage 1 win
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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All smiles for Hofland after winning the opening stage

All smiles for Hofland after winning the opening stage
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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The podium after stage 1

The podium after stage 1
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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The peloton lines up to start stage 1

The peloton lines up to start stage 1
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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The attacks started early

The attacks started early
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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CCC Polsat riders in the field

CCC Polsat riders in the field
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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The team from Hong Kong set the pace from the peloton

The team from Hong Kong set the pace from the peloton
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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The Hong Kong team leads the chase

The Hong Kong team leads the chase
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Riders picking up water bottles for their teammates

Riders picking up water bottles for their teammates
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Hofland sits in the main field

Hofland sits in the main field
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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The main field during the relatively short 85km stage 1

The main field during the relatively short 85km stage 1
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Riders cross the line in Chengmai

Riders cross the line in Chengmai
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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The field lined up and closing the gap on the day's breakaway

The field lined up and closing the gap on the day's breakaway
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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The road ahead at Tour of Hainan

The road ahead at Tour of Hainan
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Racers took on an 84km race in Chengmai

Racers took on an 84km race in Chengmai
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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The peloton begins stage 1 in Chengmai

The peloton begins stage 1 in Chengmai
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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The peloton during stage 1

The peloton during stage 1
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Baku rider takes in some water after a tough stage

Baku rider takes in some water after a tough stage
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Belkin Pro Cycling

Belkin Pro Cycling
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Moreno Hofland (Belkin Pro Cycling) celebrates the stage 1 win on the podium

Moreno Hofland (Belkin Pro Cycling) celebrates the stage 1 win on the podium
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Ma Guangtong (Hengxiang) is the best-placed Asian rider

Ma Guangtong (Hengxiang) is the best-placed Asian rider
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Moreno Hofland (Belkin Pro Cycling)

Moreno Hofland (Belkin Pro Cycling)
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Moreno Hofland (Belkin Pro Cycling) wins opening stage

Moreno Hofland (Belkin Pro Cycling) wins opening stage
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Moreno Hofland (Belkin Pro Cycling) takes the overall lead at Tour of Hainan

Moreno Hofland (Belkin Pro Cycling) takes the overall lead at Tour of Hainan
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)

Just like a year ago, Moreno Hofland (Belkin Pro Cycling), claimed stage 1 of the Tour of Hainan in Chengmai. The defending champion handled the pressure of being the hot favorite with a bunch sprint victory ahead of Italy’s Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida) and Ondrej Rybin (Dukla Praha).

“The biggest difference with last year is that people were looking at me in the bunch all the time”, the Dutchman said at the finish.

“Last year, I didn’t get noticed and we won as a breakaway group but this time, they didn’t let me go. It’s been more difficult to win today. It’s obvious that the level is higher this year with the presence of Astana and Lampre-Merida. It also took us time to bring the CCC Polsat rider [Adrian Kurek] back. As he was away [with 8km to go], so we had to ride the last five kilometers flat out.”

Belkin joined into the action with 5km to go as they had Dennis van Winden in the first attack soon after the start, and the main breakaway of the day didn’t get more of an advantage than one minute after 55 kilometers of racing. Six riders were out in front: Elchin Asadov (Baku), Nicolas Lefrançois (Novo Nordisk), Martin Blaha (Dukla Praha), Dario Hernandez (Burgos BH), Leung Chun Wing (Hong Kong) and Ma Guangtong (Hengxiang).

The future was also in Palini’s mind as he sprinted for second place behind Hofland. “I’m up for contract and looking for a new team as Lampre-Merida will not keep me for next year,” said the Italian.

“So I want to expose myself a little bit more than I usually do as I’m used to work hard for the team, either in the mountains or in the lead out for sprinters. I’m satisfied with my result today. Hofland will not be the only rider to win stages at this Tour of Hainan. Belkin has a great team here but they aren’t unbeatable. No one is unbeatable in cycling. Even the greatest champions have been beaten. Maybe with a better organization and everyone working towards a unique goal, we’ll beat them. We’ve suffered the jet lag since we arrived from Europe but we’re at the same level as them.”

It’s the first appearance at the Tour of Hainan for Czech continental team Dukla Praha who also made the top three with Ondrej Rybin who is a track specialist of the omnium. “It’s a good start for us at the Tour of Hainan”, said Rybin. “And I hope it’ll only get better and better. Alois Kankovsky is the leader of our team and we’ll work him. It turned out that I could sprint well today. I felt very good. I tried to pass the Belkin riders as I got back on their wheel at the last corner.”

Stage 2 of the Tour of Hainan will be the longest with 207km to cover from Chengmai to Haikou.

Brief results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team1:56:30
2Andrea Palini (Ita) Lampre-Merida
3Ondrej Rybin (Cze) Team Dukla Praha
4Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida
5Graeme Brown (Aus) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
6Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida
7Alois Kankovsky (Cze) Team Dukla Praha
8Wouter Wippert (Ned) Drapac Professional Cycling Team
9Arman Kamyshev (Kaz) Astana Pro Team
10Milan Kadlec (Cze) Team Dukla Praha

General classification
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Moreno Hofland (Ned) Belkin Pro Cycling Team1:56:20
2Andrea Palini (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:00:04
3Ondrej Rybin (Cze) Team Dukla Praha0:00:06
4Dario Hernandez (Spa) Burgos-BH
5Elchin Asadov (Aze) Synergy Baku Cycling0:00:07
6Martin Blaha (Cze) Team Dukla Praha
7Ma Guangtong (Chn) Hengxiang Cycling Team0:00:08
8Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:00:10
9Graeme Brown (Aus) Belkin Pro Cycling Team
10Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Lampre-Merida

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