Germany’s Tino Thömel of RTS-Santic emerged as the surprise winner of the bunch gallop on stage 7 of the 10th Tour of Hainan as he was taking part in a different sprint to the Italian trio of Jakub Mareczko (second), Andrea Palini (third), and Sacha Modolo (fourth).
They were battling on the right side of the road in Dongfang while the 27-year-old from Berlin made his way to the left in a very tight finale that required the help of the photo-finish.
“I didn’t know that I had won until the media told me,” Thömel commented. “It was very close. I couldn’t see where the Italians were. I thought the 250-metre mark was enough for me start sprinting. I went full gas on the left side.”
Sacha Modolo retained the lead in the overall ranking but didn’t get any time bonus for once. “[Roberto] Ferrari and I got a bit lost and too far behind with 1km to go,” the Lampre-Merida rider explained. “It was an interesting sprint. We were six on the same line at the end!”
Mareczko thought he had it for the second day in a row. He started celebrating with his teammates before finding out that he only won the sprint of the Italians. “There was a head wind and I launched too early,” he realised. “There’s one sprint left [possibly on stage 9] to make it up.”
“We all know each other very well,” Palini noted. “Sacha was my teammate at Lampre-Merida before and Jakub is from Brescia like me, even though we don’t have the same age, we regularly meet up. It’s a pity none of us won today.”
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