Stage one was always going to be tough stage, the rolling hills, the wind, the heat, and not forgetting the constant attacks.
Team Directasia.com setting the pace on the stage
The first 50 kilometres were manic, with unrelenting attacks, the pace being lifted to chase everything down. Everyone's eyes were on the top 10 GC riders, they were heavily marked no one was going to let them get away, but that didn't make a difference, the hurt was going to be dished out, and dished out it was. Team DirectAsia.com were the major instigators, pinging riders off the side and keeping the pace high - this seemed crazy, they were thrashing themselves, but they were thrashing everyone else too - if you wanted to be in the race you were going to have to work - riders were being spat out of the back before the race even got to 20km.
Eventually as they approached the coastal section, the whittled down peloton settled in to a more steady rhythm. At roughly the 60km mark, 3 riders got away, lead by Jason Baran (Team DirectAsia.com) they were off the front for a good 20km + and built up a lead of more than a minute. Eventually though the peloton reeled them back in with Team Fuji Asia and Confero Mavericks being the major driving force in hunting them down. Before the peloton could settle, more attacks came and to no one's surprise it was Team DirectAsia.com again - first one rider got away and was out there for a while, punishing himself for 8 hard rolling kilometers, suffering on his own, before another DirectAsia.com rider attacked at the crest of a climb with the aim of accompanying his team-mate...the gap grew, but before anything could be made of the attack the peloton caught them just before they hit the second KOM of the day.
Naveen Thomas was a force to be reconed with - Specialized KYNKYNY rode an aggressive day
The pace increased a little before another attack ensued, but wait, this one was different, it was going to stick, it was Colin Robertson (Team DirectAsia.com) with Peter Hope (Team Fuji Asia) chasing hard. Once they had a gap Team DirectAsia.com moved to the front to control the pace...as the two in the break slowly disappeared in the distance, making advantage the twisting roads, two confero mavericks riders managed to slip through in hot pursuit. The riders were not a threat to the General Classification so no chase ensued.
From that point it became a competition to see which teams could bridge across to the break; first Specialized Shanghai, then Trek Asia, then Specialized India, then Cannasia, and then Specialized Shanghai again, but to none were successful.
The two Confero Mavericks riders, Richard Paine & Alan Grant worked well together and managed to bridge to Robertson and Hope and it became clear all four were intent on making the move stick. The stage looked like it would come down to a sprint finish, but who was going to play the best tactics to get across the line first?
As the chase group got into single digits of kilometers to go, the wind picked up and with it came the rain. The change in weather would make the final kilometers a challenge for all riders and care would need to be taken to avoid a crash. The pace picked up and the group stretched, the elasticity of this group had been tested all day, and it didn't look like it was ready to break just yet. As the speed increased the rain decided to get heavier, being well positioned for the last kilometer was going to be key.
The four man break got closer to the finish, with the two Confero Mavericks riders pushing the pace along with Colin Robertson. Peter Hope however was playing the waiting game, and as they approached the final stretch into the finish Hope gave it everything. Hope played the best hand of the day and crossed the line first just pipping Robertson who was closely followed by Alan Grant and Richard Paine, who picked up third and fourth respectively.
Not far behind, the chase group was ramping up the pace, everyone looking to reduce their losses on the overall GC, just before the last kilometre there was a panic: a Cannasia rider broke a chain but managed to stay upright as well as the riders around him. The final corner came and the speed increased more, gears were shifting and Thors hammer was thrown down, it came down to a bunch sprint with Kesa Priya Pasetya (ISSI Tanjungpinang) crossing the line first with bunch hanging on his wheel.
The Stage was a success for Peter Hope, todays winner, but Colin Robertson was very well placed and moved into the Yellow Jersey for stage 2. Tjarco Cuppens of Team Fuji Asia moved into the Sprinters Jersey, and Mike Maiers (Team Direct Asia) will be wearing the polka dots.
- Peter HOPE 03:51:22
- Colin ROBERTSON 03:51:24
- Alan GRANT 03:51:36
- Richard PAINE 03:51:36
- Heksa PRIYA PRASETYA 03:52:21
- Shinobu NOGUCHI 03:52:22
- Evan QUEK 03:52:22
- Tjarco CUPPENS 03:52:22
- Lokesh NARASIMHACHAR 03:52:23
- Jun Jie Kerry LAU 03:52:23