Aberasturi opens 16th Tour of Qinghai Lake with sprint victory
The 16th edition of the Tour of Qinghai Lake kicked off in Ledu, China with a 153-kilometre opening stage to Xining with Spaniard Jon Aberasturi (Team UKYO) taking the win on Sunday.
The 28-year-old former WorldTour rider from Euskaltel out-kicked Serbian Dušan Rajovic (Aria-Mobil) and Greek Georgios Bouglas (China Continental Team of Gansu Bank) for the bunch sprint victory on the first of 13-stages in the UCI Asia Tour road race.
“The last three kilometres was very straight and I found myself in a good position with two kilometres to go and was able to win the stage,” explained Aberasturi after the race. “The peloton had to work very hard to catch the break today so I am very happy with the result.
When asked about the upcoming stages, the race leader said that while the flat circuits do not favour his style, he will most certainly be in the hunt for another win.
“I am a sprinter, but I prefer small gradients to the finish,” explained Aberasturi, who has already racked up stage wins at Tour of Thailand, Tour of Japan and Tour of Korea this season. “I will try to win the next few sprint stages, but there are a lot of good sprinters at Qinghai Lake.”
After an animated first 40km of the race, the peloton settled down heading into the first intermediate sprint with Ukrainian Andriy Vasylyuk (Kolss) claiming the first bonus points of the race, followed by Belarusian Siarhei Papok (Minsk) and fellow countryman and team-mate Vitaliy Buts.
Immediately following the first sprint, a trio of riders hit an attack that appeared close to sticking.
Italian Jacopo Mosca (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia ), Belgian Gertjan De Vos (Start-Vaxes) and Turk Nazim Bakirci (Torku-Sekerspor) broke free at the 57km mark and eventually opened up a gap of more than six minutes before the field closed the gap and shut down all attacks inside the final 10km. Bakirci took the KOM jersey on the stage’s sole categorised climb (Cat 3), while De Vos claimed the second sprint of the day.
“Today I broke away for the climb and I am very happy to claim the KOM jersey, and his season has been very good for me in terms of top GC and KOM results,” Bakirci told Eurosport.
The 31-year-old has already recorded solid results this season on GC, including ninth overall at Tour of Mersin, 11th at Tour d’Azerbaijan, 12th at Tour of Ankara, and ninth at Tour of Serbia this season. Bakirci also won the mountains classification at Mersin in April and is hoping to claim another.
" My goal is to defend the KOM jersey, but each stage is at high altitude and we are racing at elevation of more than 4,000 metres on some stages so it will be difficult."
Stage 2 will be a flat sprinters race with 22 teams from five different continents set to contest a 115km circuit race in Xining on Monday.
Stage 1 results, top 3
1. Jon Aberasturi, ESP, Team UKYO, 3:31:00
2. Dušan Rajovic, SRB, Aria-Mobil, s.t.
3. Georgios Bouglas, GRE, China Continental Team of Gansu Bank, s.t.
1. Jon Aberasturi, ESP, Team UKYO, 3:30:50
2. Dušan Rajovic, SRB, Aria-Mobil, 0:04
3. Georgios Bouglas, GRE, China Continental Team of Gansu Bank, 0:06
Race leader (Yellow Jersey): Jon Aberasturi, ESP, Team UKYO
Points leader (Green Jersey): Jon Aberasturi, ESP, Team UKYO
Mountains leader (Polka Dot Jersey): Nazim Bakirci, Torku-Sekerspor
Best Asian rider (Blue Jersey): Maral-erdene Batmunkh, MGL, Terengganu Cycling Team
Teams classification: Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia, 10:33:00