Fernando Gaviria (Quickstep-Floors) won the opening stage of the Tour of Gaungxi in a mass sprint finish. Dylan Groenewegen (LottoNL-Jumbo) took 2nd place and 3rd went the way of Pascal Ackermann (Bora-Hansgrohe).
The opening stage of the Tour of Guangxi saw riders take on two laps of a flat 53km circuti around Beihai. The fast and short nature of the course meant it was a perfect day for the sprinters. 4 riders still tried their luck in the early break of the day and our African Team had Nic Dougall in the move. While the break was destined to fail, thanks to Dougall, our Team Dimension Data for Qhubeka riders were able to save energy in the bunch.
Dougall picked up a 2 second time bonus at the first intermediate sprint, this would later place the South African 7th on GC after his break of the day was caught and he finished with the main group. The sprint finale started to unfold with around 10km to go. Our African Team was well placed on the front right hand side of the bunch. Jay Thomson and Bernie Eisel were looking after our young sprinter, Ryan Gibbons, for the final kick.
Unfortunately, Gibbons didn’t get his chance to sprint as he and Thomson crashed just inside 10km to go with a rider from UAE Emirates. With no sprinter left for the final, Eisel did what he could to follow the fast men home and went on to cross the line in 12th place for us. A disappointing start to the Tour of Gaungxi but as Gibbons and Thomson were both able to finish, we remain positive for the upcoming stages.
Nic Dougall – Rider
We sort of had a free roll today because we weren’t going to control the race. So if the option was there to get int he break without much effort then we could do it. I made it into the break and tried to take the first sprint but Silvain Dillier was too fast. Unfortunately we lost Jay and Ryan to a late crash so we couldn’t contest the sprint but everyone is motivated and ready to try again.