The longest, 237-kilometer, stage of Tour of Hainan was won by Italian sprinter, Sacha Modolo (Lampre-Merida). Eryk Latoń finished in 14th place.
Despite such a long distance, there was a lot of riders willing to get in the break. Many breakaway attempts occurred early on, but eventually the leading group was formed after 30 kilometers of racing. Tomas Vaitkus (Rietumu – Delfin), Mohd Zamri Salah (Terengganu Cycling Team), Meiyin Wang (Hengxiang Cycling Team), Andriy Khripta (Ukraina) and Jianpeng Liu (Hengxiang Cycling Team) were part of that action. The peloton didn’t rush with chasing and let them gain 12 minutes of advantage.
Me and Josef Cerny were sactive at the beginning of the stage and we tried to get in the escape. We were involved basically in every move. Unfortunately the break went clear without us. It got a little bit nervous, when the lead increased to over 10 minutes and nobody was eager to start the chase. Finally few teams sent one of their riders in the front and together we started reducing the gap – Leszek Pluciński explained.
After covering 200 kilometers the gap dropped to under 2 minutes and the bunch sprint finish was expected. The escapees were reeled back in with 19 kilometers to go. Shuffling at the head of the bunch began, as sprinters’ teams were replacing each other in the front – it was Novo Nordisk, Astana, Skydive and CCC Sprandi Polkowice who set the pace.
The group entered the final straight led by Sacha Modolo’s team. Grzegorz Stępniak and Eryk Latoń were sitting on his wheel but this time young, 22-year old cyclists was unable to sprint to the top 10 and claimed 14th. Modolo took his second consecutive victory and became new leader of general classification. He beat Brenton Jones (Drapac Professional Cycling) and Benjamin Giraud (Team Marseille 13 KTM).
The team did a great job again. We set up the “orange train” with 3 kilometers remaining and in the very finale Grzegorz Stępniak put me in a great position, behind Lampre-Merida. Unfortunately I got blocked in a decisive moment and had to sprint on a more windy side. Because of that I was lacking power in the legs in the end.
It was my first over 230-kilometer race in cycling career. I was very exhausted but I still had something left in the tank for the sprint. I need to draw conclusions after that kind of sprints and gain valuable experience to not make similar mistakes in the future – Eryk Latoń said afterwards.