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Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products) made it two for two on Thursday winning the stage two field sprint at the Tour of Chongming Island. Roxane Fournier (Poitou-Charentes.Futuroscope.86) was the runner-up in Chongxi whilst Giorgia Bronzini (Wiggle Honda) rounded out the podium for the second time.
“It was another typical Chinese style bunch sprint,” said Nettie Edmondson (Wiggle Honda). “We tried out a bit of a different tactic than we had yesterday, but it didn’t quite work out. It was a very similar outcome to the first day. Gio was on Wild’s wheel and just couldn’t quite come around again. The Futurscope rider managed to be up there at the finish, too.”
The intermediate sprints and a four-rider breakaway provided the main action in the 117km stage. With bonus seconds (3-2-1) available on each of the two intermediate sprints, it’s unsurprising that sprint trains do battle for the points.
“Because there are bonus seconds on every single sprint, even a lot of the individual riders will go for it,” Edmondson explained. “It’s an opportunity to jump up the GC. Because of those bonus seconds, there’s a bit of fight on for the minor places.”
“If a rider can come third on one intermediate sprint, she might be able to jump into the top ten overall,” Edmondson added. “For some of the lower-ranked teams, that’s a big deal. That’s why you saw some of the less familiar names contesting those sprints.”
“The first sprint was a bit nasty,” Edmondson said. “One of the riders took out Kirsten, who almost took out Gio, who ended up in the dirt. You really have to keep your wits about you.”
A four rider breakaway scooped up the bonus seconds on the second intermediate sprint.
“The group of four was always around the minute mark,” noted Edmondson. “It wasn’t anything threatening. Hitec had it under control and brought it back easily.”
Two crashes in the final 20km had little impact on the action. The first crash came shortly before the bunch overtook the breakaway. The second crash happened inside the final three kilometres.
“The crashes only brought a couple riders down,” said Edmondson. “That was quite lucky. Usually the pile-ups in China are quite big because it’s so fast and such a huge bunch. “
“There were a few attacks in the last 10km but nothing really got away,” Edmondson added. “In the end, it all came down to a bunch sprint.”
With two stage wins, Wild extended her lead on the general classification. Bronzini sits in second overall with a one second advantage over Shelley Olds (Bigla).
“We’ve got Gio up in the second, and we want to defend that,” Edmondson said. “It’s a big challenge to get first off of Kirsten at this point, so our plan is to go for the stage win and keep Gio up in second. We’ll have our eyes on the intermediate sprints tomorrow but so will all the other teams.”
“It’s the same finish line tomorrow, but we came in at a different angle,” she added. “There’s no corner at 800 metres. I think it’s a straight four kilometre run to the finish. That might make it a slightly different result. We’re going to be out guns-blazing tomorrow.”
This Wiggle Honda videos from stages one and two are well-worth a watch to give you a taste of what it’s like for the riders in China.
“The guy on stage, he’s a motivation speaker,” explained Edmondson. “He comes on stage before the start to psych everyone up for the race. He says things like: ‘May all your wishes come true’ and ‘Life up your arms and spread your wings’ and ‘Your dreams will come true. You just have to believe.’ That kind of thing.”
“That’s definitely one of the many moments we have here that are completely different than our experiences racing in Europe,” she added. “It’s a group motivational chat two minutes before the start of the race. I don’t think I’ve ever been told that my dream is going to come true at the same time as 97 other riders who are also hoping to win the stage. That’s always a special part of my day.”
Tour of Chongming Island (2.1) Chongxi → Chongxi
Information out of the Chinese races is typically a bit hard to come by due to a variety of factors. Big thanks to Nettie Edmondson of Wiggle Honda for generously agreeing to daily phone calls to share insight into each of the four days of racing in Chongming.