21th September, 2019 – Ya’an, Sichuan, China: 2019 Tour of China II stage 3, started at Ya’an Mengding Mountain Gorgeous Tea Plantation Greenway with a Mountain-top Finish atop Mengding Mountain, its 104.7 km course covered a category 3 and category 4 climb, before ascending the category 1 climb of today – Mengding Mountain (9km, 7%). The tough parcours featured the most difficult climb in 2019 Tour of China II, making today the queen’s stage of the race and a crucial day for GC contenders. One intermediate sprint was set on the flat section near half-way point.
The first categorized climb came 15km into the race, giving the opportunists a perfect setting for an early escape, Oleksandr Polivoda (Ningxia Sports Lottery – Livall Cycling team), Vasili Strokau (Minsk Cycling Club), Rohan Du Plooy (ProTouch) built a gap of over 1 minute, with Polivoda claiming maximum points at the first sprint for KOM.
In effort of defending their yellow jersey, Terengganu Cycling Team rode long and hard at the front, patiently reeled in the escapees after Polivoda and Du Plooy managed to summit the penultimate climb ahead of the peloton.
At the bottom of today’s final ascent, break of the day was eliminated. Hengxiang Cycling Team came to the front, setting a strong pace for their leaders, Zheng Zhang in Polka Dots and Xianjing Lyu in white jersey. With 5 km to go, Roman Maikin (Minsk Cycling Club) decided to light up the firework, bringing a 15-men lead group with him. Race leader Youcef Reguigui was on third wheel, followed closely by the best Greater China rider Xianjing Lyu (Hengxiang Cycling Team). Into the final 3 km, Lyu launched a searing attack, dropping all but 4 riders. Riders from Shenzhen Xidesheng Cycling Team and Burgos BH attempted to bridge across, only to be distanced again by race leaders. With 2 km left to race, Kevin Rivera, previous Tour of China overall winner, powered away at a right-hander, only Lyu and José Fernandes (Burgos BH) was able to respond. Rivera finished off the job for his team, claiming another Queen’s stage victory at Tour of China, while white jersey wearing Xianjing Lyu rode to a strong second-place finish on the day, followed by José Fernandes from Burgos BH.
From left: Xianjing Lyu, Kevin Rivera and José Fernandes
Yellow jersey is now held by the 21-year-old climbing sensation Xianjing Lyu from Hengxiang Cycling Team
The stage reshuffled classification leaders, Hengxiang Cycling Team traded their polka-dot jersey to Kevin Rivera for the yellow jersey representing overall race lead, which is now held by their 21-year-old climbing sensation Xianjing Lyu.
With only a flat circuit race day ahead, Hengxiang will almost certainly bring home a hard-fought overall victory as well as best Greater China rider title. Kevin Rivera snatched 12 points with his MTF victory, securing a KOM classification win. Marco Benfatto remains in blue, with 20 points.
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