Tour of Hainan, stage 7
Thömel chooses the other side of the road to beat the Italian contingent
By 7Cycling Jeff Quenet
Germany’s Tino Thömel of RTS-Santic emerged as the surprised winner of the bunch gallop in stage 7 of the tenth Tour of Hainan as he was taking part in a different sprint than the Italian trio formed 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 metres 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 team-mates before finding out that he only won the sprint of the Italians. “There was a head wind and I launched too early”, he realized. “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 team-mate 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.”
Ironically, despite team-work being often praised by sprinters as the key to success, Thömel won even though RTS-Santic is reduced to two men only, Iran’s Hossein Alizadeh and him. “Our other sprinter Boris Shpilevskiy was a little bit sick so he pulled out to recover for the Tour of Taihu Lake”, said the German who already won the conclusive stages at the Tour de Taiwan and the Tour de Korea – beating Australian sensation Caleb Ewan – this year. “Hossein is specifically a climber. He is still in pain since he crashed twice at the beginning of the Tour of Hainan, he kept me out of the wind during the stage but I had to sprint by myself. Tomorrow unfortunately, I won’t be a great help for him. I’ll be fighting to make the time limit.”
Stage 8 is the queen stage to Wuzhishan where the likes of Andrey Zeits and Valerio Agnoli (Astana), Paco Mancebo (Skydive Dubai), Julien El Farès and Rémy Di Gregorio (Marseille 13-KTM), Matthew Busche (Trek), Valerio Conti (Lampre-Merida) and Wang Meiyin (Hengxiang) are expected to fight for GC but most of them have a deficit of 39 seconds to recover from Modolo.
“I’m well”, the race leader warned. “Yesterday I tested myself in the first hills and I got confirmation that I can climb. Tomorrow I’ll try to hold on. I’ll defend myself. The best outcome would be to keep the yellow jersey. There’ll be a fierce competition with all the GC riders but I haven’t said my last word yet.”