Andrea Palini of Skydive Dubai claimed a back to back victories in the Tour of Hainan in Wenchang at the end of stage 2 as he outsprinted his former Lampre-Merida teammate Sacha Modolo who launched his sprint a bit too early.
“Yesterday I mentioned that luck had been on my side but today it’s a well deserved win,” Palini said. “I’ve beaten the world’s strongest sprinter at the moment. I know him very well as I’ve always worked for him last year. I savor the second victory even more than the first one because of how it went. We demonstrated that our team isn’t only about Palini and [Francisco] Mancebo. We kept the race under control and we’ll repeat that as long as I’ll be wearing the yellow jersey.”
The seven-man breakaway that included Alessandro Malaguti (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Chris Williams (Novo Nordisk), Andrea Dal Col (Southeast), Sergey Vlassenko (Vino4ever), Andriy Vasylyuk (Ukraine), Rémy Di Gregorio (Marseille 13 KTM), as well as local favorite and China Games champion Ma Guangtong (Hengxiang) was kept on a leash within two minutes by the peloton led by the United Arab Emirates based squad.
“Until 30km to go, I had no hope that we could resist to the bunch,” Malaguti explained. “But when we reached the 20km to go mark with an advantage of 2:20, I’ve believed in our chances. Legs were good. Breakaway companions were willing to ride. Unfortunately, the strong headwind at the end made our mission impossible.”
It was all together again 15km before the line in Wenchang. Several teams seized the reins of the peloton but CCC and Drapac were overtaken by Lampre-Merida in the final kilometer. Until 400m to go, Palini looked too far behind but he was following the right train. “With this headwind, I probably launched my sprint too early,” Modolo realized. “Yesterday, I got boxed in. Today I made a serious improvement. With seven stages remaining, I’m hoping to get a stage win soon.”
Palini increased his lead with the time bonus but played low profile with regards to the overall classification. “Stages like those first two are accessible to me, I’ve showed it before even though not everyone recognizes that,” the Italian fast man from Brescia said. “But when we’ll hit the climbs, it’s a question mark for me since the last race with hills that I’ve done was about six months ago. I’ll have to improvise, hoping that I’ll be at the same level as the best climbers in this race.”
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