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Palini finally takes victory for Lampre-Merida

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Palini won the stage ahead of his teammate Niccolo Bonifazio second and Astana’s Ruslan Tleubayev third

Palini won the stage ahead of his teammate Niccolo Bonifazio second and Astana’s Ruslan Tleubayev third
(Image credit: Tour of Hainan)
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Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida) takes the stage 5 win and the overall lead

Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida) takes the stage 5 win and the overall lead
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Belkin takes in some food during the stage 5 feed zone

Belkin takes in some food during the stage 5 feed zone
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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The podium

The podium
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida) opens the champagne

Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida) opens the champagne
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Palini celebrates his stage 5 win

Palini celebrates his stage 5 win
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida) tops the stage 5 podium

Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida) tops the stage 5 podium
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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The stage 5 podium top three finishers

The stage 5 podium top three finishers
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Meiyin Wang (Chn) Hengxiang top Asian rider

Meiyin Wang (Chn) Hengxiang top Asian rider
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Meiyin Wang (Chn) Hengxiang is the top Asian rider

Meiyin Wang (Chn) Hengxiang is the top Asian rider
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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A rider attacks

A rider attacks
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida) victorious in stage 5

Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida) victorious in stage 5
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida)

Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida)
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Podium presentation

Podium presentation
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida) moves into the yellow jersey

Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida) moves into the yellow jersey
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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The day's breakaway during stage 5 at Tour of Hainan

The day's breakaway during stage 5 at Tour of Hainan
(Image credit: Guoqiang Song)
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Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida) in the leader's yellow jersey

Andrea Palini (Lampre-Merida) in the leader's yellow jersey
(Image credit: Tour of Hainan)

After finishing second, third, fifth and second in the opening four stages of the Tour of Hainan, Italy’s Andrea Palini finally got the victory he was looking for in a rained soaked day of racing on a tropical island.

The Lampre-Merida team also doubled up with Niccolo Bonifazio in second place ahead of Astana’s Ruslan Tleubayev. Palini moved into the overall lead at the half-way point of the nine-day long Tour.

“Finally I managed to get my first win of the season even though it’s at the end of the season,” Palini said.

“Winning is everyone’s goal. Thanks to the help of my teammates, I’ve made it. On the hill (with 28km to go), a front group formed with a dozen of riders after an acceleration by Astana. Our GC rider Manuele Mori was up there and it looked like Belkin had no one. They probably thought they would bring it back. Because of that, I decided to attack downhill and the wet conditions had made the road slippery. We managed to escape from the bunch and get back onto the breakaway riders. Our group included Bonifazio, Roberto Ferrari and myself. We sprinted at perfection.”

“Astana put the hammer down in the climb”, Bonifazio explained. “We took over for the final sprint. Mori pulled from 3km to 1km to go. Then Ferrari rode until 200m to go. I followed and at the very end, Palini passed me. Considering the time bonus already collected, it was easier that he’d take the yellow jersey.”

Former race leader Julien Antomarchi of La Pomme Marseille was also part of the group of twenty or so riders. So was best Asian rider Wang Meiyin (Hengxiang). A notable absent was defending champion Moreno Hofland of Belkin who actually warned from the very beginning that he wouldn’t be racing for the overall classification. That role would go to teammate Nick Van der Lijke who was up there at the finish.

“Astana’s attack on the climb was very impressive”, Antomarchi noted.

Four Astana riders made that finale very hard but it didn’t include the winner of the 2012 Tour of Hainan Dmitriy Gruzdev.

“This time around, [Aleksandr] Dyachenko and [Andrey] Zeits are our GC riders”, the third placed rider Ruslan Tleubayev said, who was also in the leading group with stage 3 winner Arman Kamyshev.

After the climb, they overtook the lone leader Sergey Grechyn (Ukraine national team) who was left from the initial breakaway of five riders that also included Chinese national champion Zhao Jingbiao (Hengxiang), Ho Burr (Hong Kong), Mario Rojas (RTS-Santic) and Adrian Kurek (CCC Polsat). They had a maximum advantage of four minutes.

“I targeted the polka dot jersey”, said the Ukrainian who was the King of the Mountains at the Presidential Tour of Turkey last year and reached his goal for the day. He added: “I haven’t raced much this year and I don’t know how my legs will feel after such a hard stage in the rain.”

Palini didn’t have that kind of worry.

“The way we rode today shows the good shape and the team spirit we have”, the Italian said.

“I have the yellow jersey half way into the Tour of Hainan but I still think it will be difficult to win the overall classification. On stage 7, the hills remain a question mark for me and it’s going to be difficult to control the race every day so we’ll keep looking at getting the best result each day and hopefully it’ll bring us the maximum of satisfaction at the end.”

Brief Results

#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Andrea Palini (Ita) Lampre-Merida4:32:51
2Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida
3Ruslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana
4Arman Kamyshev (Kaz) Astana
5Stepan Astafyev (Kaz)
6Nick Van Der Lijke (Ned) Belkin
7Jordan Kerby (Aus) Drapac
8Elchin Asadov (Aze) Synergy Baku Cycling Project
9Volodymyr Zagorodny (Ukr) Ukraine
10Samir Jabrayilov (Aze) Synergy Baku Cycling Project

General classification after stage 4
#Rider Name (Country) TeamResult
1Andrea Palini (Ita) Lampre-Merida17:54:55
2Niccolo Bonifazio (Ita) Lampre-Merida0:00:06
3Julien Antomarchi (Fra) Team La Pomme Marseille 13
4Meiyin Wang (Chn) Hengxiang0:00:14
5Arman Kamyshev (Kaz) Astana0:00:16
6Samir Jabrayilov (Aze) Synergy Baku Cycling Project0:00:19
7Ruslan Tleubayev (Kaz) Astana0:00:22
8Elchin Asadov (Aze) Synergy Baku Cycling Project0:00:23
9Serhiy Grechyn (Aze) Ukraine
10Lukasz Owsian (Pol) CCC Polsat Polkowice0:00:25

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