Küng In the Breakaway Before Going Solo in the Final of Tour of Guangxi Stage 419. October 2018, Nongla (CHN) — Road Team
Stefan Küng showed strong late-season form on Tour of Guangxi stage 4, going on the attack early as part of the day’s breakaway before riding solo onto the base of the Mashan Nongla climb, the only summit finish of the race.
After an initial flurry of attacks in the opening 10 kilometers, of the 152.2-kilometer course, Küng found himself part of a trio of riders that started to open up an advantage over the rest of the field.
By the time the race reached the bottom of the day’s first categorized climb, after around 20 kilometers of racing, just Küng and Pascal Eenkhoorn (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) remained in front, 1’30” ahead of the main bunch.
The leading duo’s advantage continued to rise and 10 kilometers later, on the rolling terrain that led into the base of the second and final climb up to the finish line, they were sitting over three minutes up the road.
Despite the gap falling to inside two minutes, as teams looked to set the stage for a showdown of the General Classification contenders on the short but sharp ascent, Küng and Eenkhoorn continue to drive a hard pace out in front.
With 20 kilometers to go, the duo was still almost 1’30” ahead of the bunch and this quickly sparked a reaction behind with the peloton starting to pick up the pace once again.
Küng was able to show his strength in the final kilometers of the day by going solo as the gap fell to inside one minute approaching the three-kilometer to go mark and the start of the final climb.
However, despite this late effort, which ultimately saw him awarded the prize for the day’s Most Active Rider, he was caught just as the gradient started to take its toll and the battle for the General Classification heated up.
In the end, it was Gianni Moscon (Team Sky) who took the day’s honors ahead of Felix Großschartner (BORA-hansgrohe) and Sergal Chernetski (Astana Pro Team) while, Nathan Van Hooydonck, clearly benefitting from his day in front yesterday, was BMC Racing Team’s first rider across the line, finishing just outside the top twenty.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
“As it was a mountain-top finish, I knew it was not my kind of terrain and my initial plan wasn’t to go in the breakaway. But, suddenly we saw a lot of riders trying to move and some big groups were forming so, then we changed the tactic and tried to be in there. Suddenly, I was in a move with two other guys with another seven behind us but we rode really quickly and all of a sudden we were gone. Then after 15km, the third rider sat up and that didn’t make it any easier as it’s always quite an effort with just two guys and the peloton didn’t give us a big gap. I talked to Pascal, who was also strong, and we agreed to take it a bit easier before trying to accelerate a bit towards the end and that’s what we did.”
“We were able to hold them off for a long time but as soon as we approached the final climb, the started to close in on us. I tried to hang on as long as possible as once you are up there you might as well go all in and see how long you can stay there. Initially, I thought if I could hit the climb with a 30-second advantage then I might make it to the end of the steep part but, it didn’t happen. You never know how a race will unfold and that’s why you always have to try. I gave it my best and I think that it was good to show, now we are down to five riders, that we are still here to race.”
Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
“It was a good ride from Stefan today. We rode aggressively at the start and took the chance to go in the breakaway when it became available to us. It was a bit of a pity that the group wasn’t bigger as it was hard to fend off the peloton on a course like this but Stefan gave everything he could and we couldn’t ask for more from him. After his effort yesterday, Nathan did a good job on the climb at the end when the race really heated up.”
Tour of Guangxi
Stage 4: Nanning > Nongla, 152.2km
Top 3: 1. Gianni Moscon (Team Sky) 2. Felix Grossschartner (BORA-hansgrohe) 3. Sergal Chernetski (Astana Pro Team)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 22. Nathan Van Hooydonck 61. Miles Scotson 67. Jürgen Roelandts