Race: Tour of China I – Stage 3
Distance: 138.6 kilometers
Huangshi, China — Team Novo Nordisk was in the mix for the win on Stage 3 of Tour of China I with Mehdi Benhamouda achieving a top 5 placing after a powerful bunch sprint.
After a transfer day Tour of China resumed this Tuesday with an essentially flat 138.6 km stage in Huangshi. With only two cat-4 climbs on the menu and a pan-flat finish it was no surprise that it was a day for the fast men to shine.
A seven-rider breakaway went clear early in the stage but were never allowed more than a minute advantage. Unsurprisingly the last escapee was caught with 10 km and thereafter several riders attacked trying to surprise the bunch.
Team Novo Nordisk had a strong card to play with Mehdi Benhamouda and worked diligently all day to protect the young Frenchman covering all key moves and late attacks in the final kilometers.
The expected bunch sprint was made challenging by strong headwind but thanks to great teamwork Benhamouda was placed in great position heading into the final kilometer. Unfortunately in the fight for positioning the 24-year-old momentarily lost is speed when he touched shoulders with another rider in the final 100 meters. The momentum lost meant that Benhamouda had to settle for fifth on the line, a nonetheless promising result for the remaining stages.
The world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team will continue to race in China this Wednesday, with a 156.5 km stage in Zhijiang.
“It was a hectic stage with a lot of attacks. The team covered most of the attacks and I was able to save my legs for the sprint. There was a lot of headwind in the final kilometer and I surfed the wheels as best as possible but with 100 meters to go I touched another rider and I had to stop my sprint for a moment. Without this maybe a podium was possible but top 5 is also a nice result. We will keep fighting in the next few days.”
Stage 3 Classification
1st – Kyoung Ho Park (KSPO Bianchi Asia Procycling) – 03:08:33
2nd – Marco Benfatto (Androni Giocattoli – Sidermec) – 0:00:00
3rd – Andrea Guardini (Bardiani – CSF) – 0:00:00
5th – Mehdi Benhamouda (Team Novo Nordisk) – 0:00:00
(Photos: ©Anne Wu)