Hosking third overall at Chongming Island; Alé Cipollini wins team classification
Chloe Hosking closed out Tour of Chongming Island with a third place finish on stage three. The result was enough to seal the deal on the points jersey and the team classification. It was a successful three-day block of racing for the Australian who arrived with unknown form following a month-long break from racing.
“I can’t say I’m disappointed,” said Hosking. “I finished third overall, picked up two podium places, won the points classification and we won the team classification. And, very importantly, we had the opportunity to practice our lead-out train multiple times ahead of the Giro Rosa.
“Of course I would have loved to win the overall, or at the very least a stage but if anything the result has spurred me on for my next block of training.”
Hosking started the second stage of the Chinese stage race in yellow. She had sprinted to second on the opening stage but scooped up enough bonus seconds in the two intermediate sprints to sit atop the general classification. The longest stage of the tour – at 135 kilometres – unfolded according to plan.
“Our young Italian Soraya Paladin picked up a second in the mountain sprint which was a nice target for her,” said Hosking. “While this sounds hilarious to anyone who knows the racing in China because it’s pan flat, the ‘mountain’ was a massive bridge which connects Chongming Island to Shanghai.”
ORICA-SCOTT applied a bit of pressure to try to force a selection over the final kilometres of the bridge, but their effort didn’t produce the desired effect. The peloton remained tightly bunched together heading into the first intermediate sprint.
“My teammates nailed the lead-out, and I ended up winning the first sprint,” said Hosking. “They gave me the maximum three seconds on offer and a four-second buffer on Wild, who had started the day only one second behind me. It also helped me extend my green points classification lead.”
Things began to unravel for Hosking and her Alé Cipollini teammates in the second half of the race. They chased back a three-rider breakaway before the second intermediate sprint, which Hosking calls “the wrong decision” in retrospect.
“I didn’t pick up any bonus seconds in the intermediate sprint,” said Hosking. “We would have been better off leaving the three out there to neutralise the time bonus.”
Hosking missed out in the final sprint, too. Jolien d’Hoore (Wiggle-High5) took the stage win. Hosking finished in fourth place, outside the time bonuses, and handed over the jersey to her former teammate.
“It was a pretty tough day mentally, not so much physically,” said Hosking. “I was really disappointed because the girls had done everything for me throughout the stage and in the finish. I needed to do everything I could to fight back on stage three.”
Hosking started the final day of racing in third overall, three seconds behind d’Hoore and two seconds behind stage one winner Kirsten Wild (Hitec Products). Winning the first intermediate sprint allowed Hosking to leapfrog Wild and settle into provisional second, only one second behind d’Hoore.
“After the first sprint, a group of four escaped,” noted Hosking. “We had learned from our mistakes, and we were happy to leave them up the road. They swallowed up the bonus seconds, and we put everything into the final sprint.”
Twenty five kilometres from the finish, WM3 Energie split the peloton in the wind.
“It was a really smart move and left Jolien, Wild and I all scrambling to tag back onto that front group,” noted Hosking.
Although the split was short-lived due to the strength of the chase, it set the tone for the action that followed. Valentina Scandolara (WM3 Energie) attacked around eight kilometres from the finish and quickly amassed a 30-second gap.
“I was worried they might let her go,” noted Hosking. “She lost a lot of time in the first stage after the crash. But the sprint trains came into play and a natural increase in pace there allowed us to swallow her up just before the one kilometre marker.”
Hosking’s train worked hard to put her into position for the final sprint. If she could beat d’Hoore and Wild, she’d win not only the stage but also the overall.
“I couldn’t come over either of them in the end,” said Hosking. “Of course I’m disappointed, but I think I have gotten a lot out of the tour in terms of speed work going into the second part of the season.”
In addition to Hosking’s success, Alé Cipollini heads home with the team classification title.
“It’s a good reflection of what we saw in Chongming,” said Hosking. “I truly believe I had the best team here. I just wasn’t the fastest sprinter on the day.
“So often riders who frequent the podium forget what it’s like to actually stand up there and don’t savour the moment,” said Hosking. “But most of them wouldn’t be there without their team. I was really happy to share the podium with the girls and I think it’s a really nice reward for all their hard work the last three days.”