Van Hooydonck Enjoys Day in the Breakaway Before Bunch Sprint on Stage 3 in China18. October 2018, Nanning (CHN) — Road Team
Nathan Van Hooydonck led the way for BMC Racing Team on stage 3 in China, riding as part of the day’s four riders breakaway before ultimately the race came down to another predicted bunch sprint which once again took place in the pouring rain.
Van Hooydonck was one of four riders that went on the attack early and started to extend an advantage over the rest of the field in the opening kilometers of the first of four laps of the circuit around Nanning.
At first, it looked like the peloton wasn’t going to let this group go clear, however, after some perseverance from the riders out in front, the gap settled at around two minutes after 20 kilometers, of the 125.4-kilometer course.
Predictably, it was the sprinters’ teams who were setting the pace behind Van Hooydonck and his fellow leaders, and as a result, the gap remained stable, hovering between 1’30” and two minutes, before the battle heated up after the bell rang to mark the start of the final 31.9-kilometer lap.
Van Hooydonck continued to dig deep, and help set the tempo at the front of the race alongside Manuele Boara (Bahrain-Merida Pro Cycling Team) and Owain Doull (Team Sky), but with a determined effort from those teams looking for another bunch sprint, the gap started to fall quickly.
Despite a last-ditch effort, which saw the trio extend their advantage back out to 40 seconds inside 10 kilometers to go, the catch in enough time to set up a third consecutive bunch sprint, the second one in the pouring rain.
It was Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Floors) who eventually took the day’s honors ahead of Pascal Ackermann (BORA-hansgrohe) and Max Walscheid (Team Sunweb) to move into the leader’s jersey while, Jürgen Roelandts was BMC Racing Team's best-placed rider albeit out of contention in the final race for the line.
Quotes From the Finish Line:
Nathan Van Hooydonck:
"At first, I didn't feel so great in the breakaway and regretted making the move a little bit but, as the day went on I started to feel better and better and I realized I probably needed one 'full-gas' effort to find my rhythm again here as on the last two stages, it's been relatively easy and that's maybe why I haven't felt too good at the end. Today though, I was still feeling okay but of course, we all knew that the peloton would catch us sooner or later. It wasn't the objective to make it to the finish line as we [the breakaway] had to be realistic about our chances but I was able to take two bonus seconds. I hope this effort gives me good legs for the uphill finish tomorrow as I want to see what I can do there."
"In the final, when the gap went back up, we had all accelerated without saying anything to each so, we were working pretty well with one another and I don't think we could have got anything more out of this stage."
Sports Director, Jackson Stewart:
“The energy of Nathan today was amazing. He raced well today and even though we knew it would be another sprint, we had to try and he did a good job out there. He picked up some bonus seconds along the way and every little bit counts ahead of the GC day tomorrow. It was nice to be in the action today. We don’t have a pure sprinter here and we lost Richie yesterday so, we have to make the most out of the race really.”
“We are going into tomorrow’s stage without any real favorites so, I think we can look to take opportunities. It is a climb that can also suit a strong Classics-style rider. We will definitely try to be in the breakaway and then we will see what we can do on the climb and hopefully we can move up the GC a little bit with someone.”
Tour of Guangxi
Stage 3: Nanning > Nanning, 125.4km
Top 3: 1. Fabio Jakobsen (Quick-Step Floors) 2. Pascal Ackermann (BORA-hansgrohe) 3. Max Walscheid (Team Sunweb)
BMC Racing Team Top 3: 42. Jürgen Roelandts 58. Stefan Küng 75. Nathan Van Hooydonck