The name of Ukraine’s Tetyana Ryabchenko of Chirio Forno d’Asolo popped up for the first time on the international cycling scene after she won the fifth leg of the 2013 World Cup on the island of Chongming in China.
While a bunch sprint finish was highly expected on this flattish terrain, she escaped with fifteen kilometers to go and resisted to the return of the peloton, led to the line by former world champion Giorgia Bronzini from Wiggle-Honda. However, they were not threat to Marianne Vos who retained the lead in the UCI World Cup without making the trip to the far East.
“I can’t believe I’ve managed to win”, said an emotional Ryabchenko after the finish.
“I was far from being a favorite and I didn’t think I could beat them but I took my chance and they didn’t catch me. In the last 500 metres, I kept looking behind to make sure that my dream was coming true. I’ve prepared well for this race, in altitude but also on flat roads like here. It was my first time in China. It was very hot today and it has made the race hard for everyone. Also during the three-day stage this week, I’ve broken away a few times but it didn’t work out. Luck has been on my side today. It’s hard to realize but it’s an enormous satisfaction.”
Ryabchenko was clever enough to realize that she had scored important UCI points for the qualification of Ukrainian riders for the world championship in Florence at the end of September. The 23 year old from Kiev added: “I’ve also made it due to work. I’m not a sprinter, so I only rode with the intention of breaking away as I did a few times during the stage race this week with my good friend and former team-mate Anastasia Chulkova [of RusVelo]. In this race we’ve enjoyed wide roads. It was less dangerous than the racing we’re used to in Europe.” In fact, roads were so wide that the members of the peloton hesitated with regards to which side to choose at 2.5km to go mark as they were chasing with a deficit superior to thirty seconds from the lone leader.
How it unfolded
The fifth edition of the Tour of Chongming Island started in the splendor of the Oriental Sports Center of Shanghai in front of the Aquatic Center that hosted the 2011 swimming world championships. It was a 126.8km route via the Pudong International Airport, the Shanghai Yangtze River tunnel and bridge with a passage under sea level and a peak at 73 meters in the middle of the bridge named after former People’s Republic of China president Jiang Zemin. Several teams had the intention to split the peloton in that part of the course normally exposed to crosswinds, bearing in mind the tactic used by the Specialized-Lululemon team one year ago, but it was a sunny and beautiful day at the office with not enough wind to make a difference.
Following a few unfruitful skirmishes, Aude Biannic of the French national team took her chance to go clear off the peloton after 82 kilometres of racing. She stayed away for 22 kilometres and got a maximum lead of 40 seconds. “I had the feeling that the peloton was playing with me, so I targeted the hot spot sprint at km 100 before gearing up for the final sprint”, the Breton rider commented. “We didn’t have a top sprinter, so we wanted to do well as a team and we did with three riders in the top 20 and the third place in the teams classification.”
At least Biannic’s enterprise inspired Ryabchenko, who successfully stayed clear off the fast furious chase led by Orica-AIS and Wiggle Honda. The Australian team had high ambitions for Emma Johansson in the individual World Cup standings. Crossing the line in fourth position, she scored 30 points – less than half of the 75 points awarded to the winner who didn’t have any from the first four legs – and moved up to second place overall, 72 points down on Vos.