The 3rd Colourful Yunnan Granfondo Cycling Festival started today with the traditional stage in a sunny provincial capital Kunming. The fine conditions inspired 23-year-old Jia Zhichao to a fantastic solo ride of no fewer than 75 km! And... he has a nearly 5-minute bonus on the protagonists before the hilly stages.
The 110 km long first stage around Dianchi Lake did not have any major obstacles apart from a few slopes in the second part of the course. It took a while before we saw a first attack. After some 15 kilometres, 48-year-old veteran from Shenyang Zhao Fengmei took off and opened up a nice gap. With the first checkpoint and intermediate sprint for bonus seconds in sight, he was caught by the young and stylish Jia Zhichao. The latter also claimed the 20 bonus seconds, in what seemed to be a calculated move to gain time on the main contenders for the overall victory in this year's Granfondo Yunnan. However, when 10 km later Zhao Fengmei fell away due to a puncture, Jia Zhichao pressed on by himself and began a solo breakaway of impressive proportions. At the second checkpoint at km 87, he had 2'20" on Canadian Rion-rider Nicolas Magana and 3'20" on the first group. An incredible ride by the youngster. And just when you saw him sitting up and cramping up at times, you got told that his advantage over the other riders was still increasing! Back in Kunming, Jia Zhichao made the traditional victory salute with a 2'56" bonus on Magana. The bunch had even lost further terrain, and came in at 4'34" led by Deng Feng, who had escaped the bunch sprint in the last kilometre and claimed third place. Mongolian aces Tugulduur Tuulkhangai and Myagmarsuren Baasaankhuu took fourth and fifth with Russian Konstantin Saliukov sprinting to the final sixth step of the podium. All main race favourites ended in the main group.
Also in that first group was first woman Solongo Tserenlham, recent winner of GF Yanbian and in the shape of her life. She preceeded Kristin Hoffman from the Netherlands by 3 minutes, and Fu Shiqi by 8'41" .