Recently crowned Romanian road race champion Eduard Grosu earns first win in national jersey after rallying from the Tour of Qinghai Lake’s first hors catégorie climb of the race. The “highest altitude bike race in the world” began to live up to its billing on Stage 3 as the two-week, 13-stage crowning jewel of the UCI Asia Tour ascended 3,820 metres on the first mountain day of the Tour of Qinghai Lake (2.HC).
In the final, it was freshly minted Romanian road champion Eduard Grosu of Italian Professional Continental team Nippo-Vini Fantini coming out on top with Italian Luca Pacioni (Wilier Triestina-Selle Italia) taking second and Eritrean Meron Abraham (Bike Aid) third in the select sprint group.
“It was a very nice day,” said Grosu. “My teammates waited for me on the climb because I was dropped there because they do a very hard pace. We came back on the final of the downhill and from there we put the guy on the front to take back the breakaway.
“Pacioni closed on me last 300 metres, but I was waiting and afterwards I go outside on the left and do a very nice sprint.” For 24-year-old Pacioni, it was a hard-fought second-place result.
“The mountain was very long and hard,” he said. “Hard day, hard stage and very hot.” With the win, the 25-year-old Grosu becomes the third race leader in as many days lifting the yellow jersey from Stage 2 winner Brenton Jones (Delko-Marseille Provence KTM), while Pacioni, who is three seconds off Grosu, also claimed the green points jersey from the Australian sprinter, who finished 17 minutes adrift.
It was big about-face for Grosu, who finished dead last on the same stage from Duoba to Guide last year at 27 minutes 3 seconds back of winner Stanislau Bazhkou (Minsk Cycling Club). Despite the win, Grosu admittedly does not feel in fine form after opting to race the Sibiu Cycling Tour (2.1) instead of attending altitude camp.
“I dont feel good,” said the 2014 Qinghai stage winner. “Hopefully in the second week I will do a better job. “First win in national champion jersey, so pretty happy for that.”
While Grosu slides to the top of general classification, Wilier GC rider Ilia Koshevoy once again finds himself in the polka-dot jersey after claiming the first KOM, but not without a price.
The 27-year-old Belarusian crashed with another rider in the descent of the mountain, and now must face three-consecutive race-deciding mountain stages in order to reach his goal of reaching the yellow jersey.
“Just like last year I took the KOM jersey on this climb because for me this climb is very good because I know it,” Koshevoy explained. “I performed well and took the jersey, but after the descent we crashed and now I hope I can perform next day as well.
“I hope it will not effect me, but to crash before the next three hard days will make it very challenging. The 17th edition of Qinghai Lake resumes on Wednesday with a 100-kilometre mountain stage featuring two categorised climbs, including a Cat.1 and Cat.2, from Guide to Longyangxia.