Sacha Modolo gave Lampre-Merida a first stage victory at the 2015 Tour of Hainan as he outsprinted Jakub Mareczko of Southeast and Michael Eduard Grosu of Nippo-Vini Fantini in the province’s capital Haikou. Winner of the first two stages, Andrea Palini of Skydive Dubai missed out but retained the overall lead by one second over Modolo.
“Winning is always nice,” Modolo reacted. “Winning is always important, too. Yesterday I launched my sprint too early but today I was in the right timing. As a team, we remained covered until 1km to go. We knew the road was wide enough to move up late. My lead-out went to 150 metres this time and I finished it off. It was a standard sprint.”
The side wind at the beginning of the stage along the east coast of the island didn’t break the peloton but four riders went up the road: James Glasspool (Novo Nordisk), Krists Neilands (Rietumu-Delfin), Vitaly Buts (Ukraine) and Ma Guangtong (Hengxiang). The latter captured a three seconds bonus on the way, which put him first in the best Asian rider competition. He revealed that his team tactic consists in dividing the Tour of Hainan in two parts this year: in the first few stages, it’s up to him to attack and chase the time bonuses while top GC contender Wang Meiyin has been instructed by team manager Li Fuyu to remain quiet until the route becomes lumpy.
The Skydive Dubai team logically controlled the race. “We’ve done it just as planned,” Palini explained. “But at the end we’ve remained short in human resources. Because of the width of the road, it wasn’t difficult for other teams to overtake us in the last 2km. Moreover, I’ve had to brake twice with 800 metres to go. That put me out of contention for the sprint.”
Modolo had it but he only maintained an advantage of half a wheel on the finishing line. Mareczko, who was unlucky with a nasty crash on stage 1, was a serious threat for his compatriot. “I’ve got the legs,” he noticed. “The training at home is showing some improvements. It’s a pity that I’ve not won today but I’m happy with my form and how the team stayed together in the finale. It’s encouraging for our Chinese campaign with the Tour of Hainan followed by the Tour of Taihu Lake.”
Grosu from Romania also appeared for the first time on the podium. “It’s a good result,” said the Nippo-Vini Fantini rider. “But every day some people here take a lot of risks. With 200 metres to go, I was on Sacha’s wheel but Tomas Vaitkus came in between us and I’ve had to brake. I’m not saying that I would have won but I could have been second. That’s my regret.”
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